With weekly Mexican mango shipments to the United States in the voluminous 1.7 million-carton to 2.3 million-carton range for a six-week period in April and May, the situation pointed to a potential marketing disaster. But it did not happen.
Importers indicated that retail movement was very good and they received a lot of promotional support during that time period to help move the large crop.
"Retailers are doing a very good job of helping us move this crop," said Ronnie Cohen of Vision Import Group in River Edge, NJ. "They put together a lot of ads and promotions when we needed them."
Larry Nienkerk, manager of Splendid Products in Burlingame, CA, concurred. "Overall, they have been champs. I have been very pleased and a little bit astounded. There have been lots of promotions."
Mr. Nienkerk said that there could have even been more if there would have been better information with regard to volume. He said that there were some lost opportunities because of the forecast that this would not be the bumper volume year that it has actually turned out to be. But he added that retailers have responded and promoted mangos at some very good price points.
Another importer happy with this year's retail promotions is Bill Vogel of Tavilla Sales Co. of Los Angeles. "We've seen lots of tropical fruit ads this year, especially around Cinco de Mayo. Retailers did a very nice job this year."
Mr. Vogel cautioned however that as the summer approaches, the competition for those prime promotion spots in ads and in-store intensify.
Jesus (Chuy) Loza of Freska Produce International in Oxnard, CA, said, "There has been very good support from retail this year."
He was especially pleased with how many retailers stepped up to the plate in May to move the unprecedented Mexican volume that was shipped. "The retailers came through for us and on pretty short notice. Considering the supplies we had, it didn't get as ugly [price wise] as I thought it would. We moved a lot of fruit."
As Mr. Vogel pointed out, it may not be as easy the next couple of months with peaches, plums, nectarines, watermelons, berries, grapes and many other items vying for that retail ad space.
Chris Ciruli, chief operating officer of Ciruli Bros. in Nogales, AZ, also was happy with the number of mango ads but a bit surprised by how well the offshore fruit did even on the West Coast. He saw a number of ads featuring Guatemalan mangos "in our backyard," meaning the West Coast, where retailers typically feature the geographically advantaged Mexican mangos. But Mr. Ciruli was quick to add that all mango promotions, regardless of the origin of the fruit, help the industry, and he applauded the efforts of the retailers.