London Fruit emphasizing the Kent mango
London Fruit Inc., which is based in Pharr, TX, has started production of its Kent mango variety from the state of Michoacán in southwest Mexico.
Jerry Garcia, vice president and co-owner of the company, has been representing Mexican mangos to U.S. buyers for four decades. The company is a Mexican mango specialist, carrying the item into late summer, sourcing from a half dozen different growing regions and packers. Garcia said the company’s Kent mango program from Michoacán is special in that London Fruit is one of the leading purveyors of the variety during this mid-April to late-May time frame. And they are typically the first importer to bring that variety into the United States. The main season for the Kent variety runs in the summer months, starting in late May and running through August.
Talking to The Produce News on Monday, April 26, Garcia said they just started shipping Kents and anticipated they would have the Michoacán fruit deep into May. He called it a “low fiber/high sugar variety” that is often favored by populations that grew up on mangos. Garcia said the market on Kents on this late April day was hovering near $6.50 per carton, but as the overall mango volume increases, he was anticipating some slippage. He said mangos are currently promotable and that should remain the case for the next several months.
The cold snap that ran through Texas and Mexico in February and March has had some impact on the Michoacán Kents as it has potentially dropped the average size one slot. “I’d say they typically peak on 8s; it could be 9s this year,” he said, noting that it is still too early to predict how the crop will pack out.
London Fruit began its Mexican mango season in February with volume from Chiapas and Oaxaca and have moved north with the harvest. After the Michoacán volume starts to decline in late May, London Fruit will be working with grower-packers in Jalisco and Nayarit and then move on to southern Sinaloa before ending with the Los Mochis deal in north Sinaloa in late July.
But while they do source from many districts, Garcia emphasized that Michoacán and this Kent deal is at the heart of London Fruit’s mango program. “We’re just getting started right now but we should be blowing and going in a week or two.”
The company has been increasing its overall mango volume every year and reported that on a volume basis it jumped from the No. 15 to the No. 12 U.S. mango importer from 2019 to 2020, and is anticipating a further increase this year. London Fruit markets its mangos, as well as avocados and limes, throughout the United States.
Garcia said rising transportation rates are the latest challenge mango importers must face. Mangos have long been a relatively low-cost piece of fruit that sees its sales double and triple overnight when f.o.b. pricing allows for aggressive retail promotions. Garcia said as truck rates climb there is increased downward pressure on the price of the fruit itself. “We have to stay above $3.50 (per carton). Nobody makes any money at $3.50,” he quipped.