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Mexico heading into mango season with good market

By
Tim Linden

As Mexico began its 2022 mango season in January with shipments of the yellow-fleshed Ataulfo variety, U.S. importers were greeted with a strong market. That market generally saw mangos trading at an excellent price, nearing double-digits for the standard four-kilogram carton. Veteran industry observers are predicting that the market will remain relatively strong through at least mid-March with promotable volume coming into play around April 1.

“It has been an interesting market,” said Ronnie Cohen, a principal at Vision Import Group LLC, based in Wyckoff, NJ. “There were a bunch of dynamics at play that led to a pretty good market.”

In the first place, he said there is often a decline on the supply side in January when the Peruvian deal winds down and before Mexico’s volume kicks in. In addition, he said the logistics issues this past year, including delays at the port, were another issue that impacted supplies. He said space on some ocean freighters has been extremely tight and other loads sat in various harbors waiting for their turn to be unloaded. “There were some mangos that were in transit for more than a month,” he said. “Some fruit had to be dumped. The bottom line is there were a lot of variables to deal with and the market has been very good for the past month.”

Speaking Feb. 15, he predicted it would be another month before supply and demand get more in line, and six weeks (April 1) before there is promotable volume. Cohen said there are others points of origin, such as Guatemala and Costa Rica, which will help on the supply side in the interim, but not in a significant way. He noted on this mid-February day that there was a wide range in price depending on fruit quality. He said it ranged at the low end from $2-$3 per carton to $8-$9 on the top end.

Cohen noted that mangos tend to have a self-regulating ceiling. If the variety is right and the size is very large, a retailer can get as much as $1.99 for a conventional piece of fruit, but sales are definitely impacted when the price for a single mango moves above $1. Often retailers promote the crop at a price point of multiples for $1, such as two for a dollar or three for a dollar. He added that when the f.o.b. price climbs into double-digits, demand typically declines and the price starts moving down.

Gary Clevenger, chief operating officer for Freska Produce International, based in Oxnard, CA, had a very similar report. Having just returned from a trip to the mango growing regions in southern Mexico, he told The Produce News on February 16 that the quality of the Ataulfo fruit was excellent with the shipping of red mangos from Mexico still several weeks away. “The reds are starting to color up, but we don’t expect any real volume on reds (from Mexico) until mid-March,” he said.

In the meantime, Clevenger said Peru is the leading supplier of reds with all sizes trading in the $8.50-$9 range, which is a strong market.

While Mexico appears to be chugging along unabated, Clevenger said there were reports that packing of U.S.-bound mangos from Michocan were suspended this week (week of Feb. 14) just as the avocados were halted. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Saturday night, Feb. 13, that all imports of Mexican avocados were suspended because of a threat to a USDA inspector at a Michoacan packing shed. While all imports of Mexican avocados to the United States come from the state of Michoacan at the present time, that coastal state in Central Mexico is only one of many states that supply mangos to the United States. However, Michoacan is the leading exporter of mangos to the United States with shipments representing almost 25 percent of the U.S. exports. There is expectation that the suspension on both mangos and avocados will be short-lived, but Clevenger said it is a situation that needs to watched.

Nissa Pierson, of El Grupo Crespo noted the strong marketing situation that currently exists for mangos and opined that April should be the coming-out month for mango promotions. Pierson said Mexico has an excellent crop that does appear to be following normal volume patterns.

She noted that while the mango market is relatively high in this early part of the calendar year, the beginning of spring is when volume increases, and the market starts to drop. This year that heavy volume period appears to be delayed just a bit, but Pierson anticipates a very strong promotional spring and summer for both conventional and organic mangos. She added that the most southern mango-producing states are currently shipping Ataulfos to the U.S. market with red varieties still several weeks away from volume shipments.

The Association of Mango Exporters of Mexico have forecast an excellent season with about 61 million cartons of mangos going to the U.S market in 2022. That would represent about a 5 percent increase over last year’s volume of 58 million cartons. The group is anticipating an extended peak shipping period, as is typically the case, stretching from the end of March through most of June. Good volume shipments will continue from Mexico through much of the summer. Typically, Mexico starts to run out of fruit in late September. 

EMEX estimated that producers from Michoacan will top the charts of U.S. mango exports with more than 14 million cartons this season, followed closely by Nayarit’s close to 13 million cartons and Sinaloa, which could approach 12 million cases. Oaxaca is next with more than 10 million cases, but then there is a bit of a drop-off. The state of Chiapas, which is one of the earliest producing regions, should check in with close to 5 million cartons, while Jalisco in Central Mexico chips in with about 4.5 million cartons.  Guerrero (2 million) and Colima (1.2 million) are two other states with significant exports to the United States.

As far as promoting the mango crop in the United States, Tricia Bramley, who is director of marketing and communications for the National Mango Board, said the commodity group has developed several different marketing strategies. “We have primarily shifted to digital marketing, including our website revamp, social media channels including TikTok, paid targeting, influencer programs, and retail promotions,” she said. “We have also started to include additional digital channels such as digital TV. YouTube and video also remain an important tactic.”

She added that these various channels are utilized to reach targeted consumers based on their interests, station in life and purchasing intent. “We not only are able to target the right people at the right time in the right place with the right message, but also able to get valuable data back about our target markets, their behaviors and purchasing intent.”

Bramley said mangos are becoming more popular and the health message is resonating. “We have seen a self-reported increase in the awareness of mango and their health benefits, as well as behavioral data from our digital media that has shown more interest in the health benefits of mango.”

She added that the digital marketing approach and the data it produces is helping NMB “learn more about our consumers and their behaviors and optimize our marketing around those behaviors to ensure we are delivering the most value through marketing possible.”

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