In three of the last four years, the Mexican mango deal has gotten off to a
fast start with at least some shipments in early February, and some
marketable volume by the end of the month. Last year, shipments began in
January and were quite heavy by the end of February.
That has not been the pattern for 2010. In fact, shipments were non-existent
in the first couple of weeks of February and U.S. importers are estimating that
big numbers won't start to be seen until late March or early April. Mexico has
been hit with lots of rain and well below normal temperatures in its southern
states, which are the first mango-producing regions.
The daily report, circulated to the mango industry by Empacadoras de Mango
de Exportacion, which goes by its acronym, EMEX, reveals that the first
Mexican mangos shipped to the United States this year did not cross until
Feb. 15. For the previous five years, the latest start date was Feb. 14 in 2005.
Last year, shipments began Jan. 22. In 2008, Feb. 4 was the start date, while
in 2006, the first shipments were sent on Feb. 6 and in 2007, the start date
was Feb. 8. By Feb. 20 of last year, more than 1 million cartons of Mexican
mangos had been exported to the United States. By Feb. 20 of this year, that
number was only 75,000.
"It has been very, very slow," said Chuy Loza, a partner in Freska Produce
International, the Oxnard, CA-based firm that is one of the top sellers of
mangos in the United States. “I think that will remain the case until middle of
April, at least with the reds (red-skinned mango varieties).”
As he spoke to The Produce News March 2, Mr. Loza said that Freska would
have 15 containers of Peruvian mangos land into the United States the
following week (March 8-14) “but that will be the end of that deal. The
market will be tight for the next month.”
Larry Nienkerk, managing partner at Splendid Products LLC in Burlingame,
CA, echoed the sentiments of others. “The early supplies have been light and
the quality has been fair to good ... nothing excellent yet. Going into the
Mexican deal the market has been very strong. We expect volume to pick up
the last week in March and climb in April. There will be adequate supplies by
Cinco de Mayo.”
As of early March, the mango market was at a strong $7 per nine- to 10-
pound carton and expected to stay strong until volume picks up, according to
the Freska executive.
Dan Lawton, sales manager and head of the Tropical Division for Tavilla Sales
Co. in Los Angeles, said March 2 that mango volume of the yellow-skinned
Ataulfo variety was down at least 75 percent from the same date last year
“and I don’t think it will loosen up for at least two to three weeks.”
Ataulfos are traditionally the first Mexican mangos to hit the U.S. market each
Chris Ciruli, chief operating officer for Ciruli Bros. LLC in Nogales, AZ, said
notwithstanding last year’s experience, March 10 is usually when mangos
start to cross in volume and that his firm would be in line with that this year.
Ciruli Bros. specializes in its own “Champagne” mango, which is an Ataulfo
Mr. Loza said there would be promotable volumes of mangos in April but
predicted that it will be late April before the industry sees the heavy volume
numbers. When mango production is in full swing, with multiple Mexican
states in production (usually from April to August), volumes can top 400,000
cartons exported to the United States per day. During March, shipments of
150,000 per day are more commonplace though last year many March days
topped 200,000 cartons. In fact, every shipping day but March 1 topped
100,000 and half the days surpassed 200,000. This year might be following
the pattern of 2005, which saw more than 100,000 cartons on fewer than half
of the March days.
Although volume got off to a great start last year, the season didn’t last as
long at the back end and total volume, at 43.2 million cartons, was very
similar to the 2006 and 2007 seasons. In 2008, the volume was 40.7 million
cartons and in 2005, it did not top 37 million cartons. Despite this year’s
slow start, U.S. importers appear confident that when all the dust has settled
total volume will be in line with the previous year topping the 40 million
Mr. Nienkerk of Splendid said late volume should be better than last year.
Speaking to a northern Mexican grower on one phone as he was talking to
this reporter in early March on another, he relayed that the mango bloom in
the northern states was very good. Of course, a lot can happen between
March and July when those mangos are picked, but so far so good.