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Mango market expected to ease after impressive run

By
Tim Linden

To Chris Ciruli, chief operating officer of Ciruli Bros., based in Nogales, AZ, the numbers speak for themselves. “Last week (April 25 to May 1), 3.7 million cartons of mangos came into the United States. With that type of volume, you’d expect prices to be on the decline, but the demand is still very strong.”

The veteran mango supplier recalled that it wasn’t too long ago that a few weeks in a row of 2.5 million cases would send the market spiraling downward. “I expect we will have a couple of back-to-back weeks this season with volumes in excess of 3 million cartons with good demand. Mango consumption continues to go up,” he said.

Despite the big supplies during the last week of April mostly from Mexico and Guatemala, Ciruli said on May 3 the market for the larger yellow-skinned Ataulfo mangos was a very solid $12. He revealed that the pull a couple of weeks out for Cinco de Mayo was a little wek but with Mother’s Day following on its heels, demand picked up and the two-week play has been excellent. “We have had a very active week,” he said. We are seeing tremendous demand for the large fruit from the Asian chains. The Hispanic chains are taking the small fruit and the conventional supermarkets are taking everything in between.”

Ciruli said the market has been excellent since late February and he expected it to remain in a very strong position through May, although he said there has been some easing on the f.o.b. price of green and red-skinned mango varieties. He predicted that there would be promotable pricing from early June and throughout the month once the state of Nayarit and Sinaloa started shipping in big volumes.

Gary Clevenger, managing member for Freska Produce International, based in Oxnard, CA, was equally impressed with the demand for mangos over the past six weeks. “The mango market has been hot for a while,” he said on May 3. “Demand has been really good. Right now, we are short on yellows.”

The Freska executive, who has spent a career selling mangos, expressed a bit of uncertainty as to why the market is so strong. “The mango has been very popular for the last six weeks,” he said, opining that people might be attracted to it in their efforts to eat healthier. “Today on yellows, we are getting $11 for 12s and $6 on 20s. Last year, we were getting $7 on 12s. There is a $3 to $4 difference on every size.”

Clevenger said the Ataulfo and Tommy Atkins variety are currently carrying the mango load, but will soon be joined by Kents, Keitts and Hadens as new districts open. He said supplies from the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guerrero are starting to wind down with Jalisco and Nayarit a little bit delayed in their start. “By middle to late May and through all of June, I expect to see promotable volume and pricing.”

JoJo Shiba, the California-based West Coast sales director for GM Produce Sales, which is based in Hidalgo, TX, reported the same strong demand as the others and estimated that promotable pricing will be available for Memorial Day weekend ads at the end of May. “The southern areas are winding down and we haven’t started the big push of product from Nayarit, Jalisco and south Sinaloa,” she said. “Nayarit appears to be about a week late.”

She added that prices are higher than in the past, especially on the larger fruit as there is a shortage of size 8 and larger mangos. Mangos are sized according to how many fit in a carton. “I do see the prices starting to come down. From Memorial Day to Fourth of July will be the perfect time for promotions,” she predicted. “Over the next couple of weeks, we will see more volume. And by the third or fourth week of May, there should be promotable mango prices.”

While Ciruli didn’t argue with that assessment, his company specializes in the yellow Ataulfo variety and he believes the market could stay solid throughout the season for that particular variety. “It has been amazing how well the yellows have sold. There has been very high demand.”

He added that Nayarit will create strong volume in June but when that district finishes up, the move to Los Mochis in northern Sinaloa doesn’t appear to have the fruit to quench the demand for yellow mangos. “Los Mochis is a smaller deal,” he cautioned.

Also weighing in on the overall mango situation was Jesse Sepulveda, mango category manager for Vision Produce Co., based in Los Angeles. He noted that for Vision there is currently a transition taking place from one district to another. “Currently, our Oaxaca’s conventional Van Gogh mango supply is winding down due to storm activity last week.  Supplies being packed out of Michoacán’s have seemed to slow. Jalisco just started to ship, and Nayarit is two weeks away.”

Like the others, Sepulveda believed promotional opportunities should present themselves deeper into May. “At the end of May, there will be higher volumes — plus or minus 3 million boxes packed per week — which should allow for mango ads,“ he said.

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