Splendid has high hopes for strong Mexican mango season
Favorable weather conditions in the mango-growing regions in Mexico have set the stage for ample volumes of fruit that so far has shown excellent quality, which is music to the ears of officials at Splendid by Porvenir.
“There has been an incredible amount of fruit that has crossed over from Mexico in the last five days, unprecedented volume,” Cindy Schwing, vice president of marketing at Splendid, told The Produce News on May 4. “The market is filling quickly and everyone is watching the price and trying to hold on to the best market we can for as long as we can.”
Schwing said Splendid kicked off the season with the Tommy Atkins variety and planned to move on to the Kent variety around May 18.
“People are really looking forward to the Kents,” she said. “They tend to be a better eating mango than the Tommys.”
Carlos Ferniza, marketing manager at Splendid, added that Kents will be arriving a couple of weeks earlier this year due to favorable weather in Mexico that brought the crop on early.
“A lot of retailers were promoting for Cinco de Mayo, which was great for the mango industry,” said Schwing. “But with the volume of fruit in the market, we hope that those promotions extend through Memorial Day and throughout the summer. But at that point, you start running into a lot of competition with other produce items, and we just want to remind retailers that we are here with a lot of fruit and we hope they will be ready and willing to continue promoting!”
Ferniza said that prices on the yellow variety have been unusually high for this time of year. “It’s interesting because it shows the market is moving fast, and the demand on the honeys was different this year,” he said.
As evidence of the strong demand this year, Ferniza said honeys actually started shipping in early January, which is generally too early in the maturity process for the fruit. But demand at retail called for the early shipments.
“You have to be careful about shipping so early, because you can do more harm than good if fruit is not ready to eat,” said Schwing. “You want to make sure consumers have a ripe, sweet mango to eat so they come back for more. At that point, it’s important to educate them about the proper way to ripen a mango, either through point-of-sale materials or a QR code that brings them to a site with mango ripening tips.”
But overall, the desire to promote fruit earlier is a good sign, according to Schwing.
“That’s exciting for us, because a lot of years retailers have not been willing to promote the honeys alongside the rounds, so it is encouraging this year to have both being promoted by more and more supermarkets,” she said. “That means more shelf space for mangos at retail, and as a result, more exposure and more visibility for the mango category.”
Schwing also credited the National Mango Board for its work to promote the industry: “The NMB team has done an outstanding job with their merchandising efforts, including the honey and rounds bins for retail.”
Schwing said ethnic supermarkets in particular do a great job of promoting mangos, especially the yellows/Ataulfos.
“They not only sell a lot of whole fruit, but they push clamshells and full cases,” Ferniza said. “That means moving more volume, which helps the entire industry.”
Ferniza said Kents would run until mid- to late July, at which point Splendid will begin with its prized Keitt variety from Sinaloa.
“Many retail buyers really look forward to Keitt season, because that variety has larger sizes that are in demand at retail,” said Schwing. “And it’s especially exciting for us at Splendid, because we are very proud of this region as it is our home turf, and we know what it takes to produce a ‘Splendid’ mango from there.”
Schwing added that many of Splendid’s employees hail from Sinaloa and have been with the company for 20-plus years.
“Splendid is a family-owned company, and family extends to these longtime employees who have so much pride in the company,” she said.
Ferniza said the Keitt deal usually runs through September, though last year it extended well into October.
“We’re not sure when it will end this year, but we’ll definitely have fruit through September and possibly into early October,” he said.
Schwing added that she hopes retailers will stay with Splendid for as long as possible before moving to offshore fruit in the fall. But for now, she is excited for a summer full of high-quality mangos.
“Mangos are the epitome of summer fun,” she said. “After all, what’s better than a mango margarita when you are sitting by the pool or beach?"