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The National Mango Board has developed an easy, hand-held guide to help warehouse receivers at the retail level differentiate mango ripeness levels.

"Making sure the mangos on retailers' shelves are the highest-possible quality is easier than ever with the new Mango Maturity & Ripeness Guide," NMB Executive Director William Watson wrote in an open letter to the trade. He said that the new tool was developed specifically to "educate retail receiving personnel to help ensure that consumers are offered the best selection of quality mangos."

The mango board is using importers and retailers to get the tool into the right hands. The guide is being mailed to U.S.-based mango importers and others in the mango industry, and it is also being offered to retailers. Mr. Watson said that the information in the guide is meant to be educational and to provide a guideline for gauging mango maturity and ripeness. He cautioned that it does not represent U.S. Federal Grade Standards and should not serve as the basis for a contract or for an inspection.

Members of the National Mango Board's quality research team, which included academics from the University of Guatemala, the University of Florida and the University of California-Davis, developed the material for the guide.

Six commercial varieties, which constitute the vast majority of U.S. shipments, are included in the guide. The six varieties detailed are Ataulfo, Madame Francis, Haden, Keitt, Kent and Tommy Atkins, and the information includes interior photographs of each variety at five maturity-ripeness stages, plus ranges for degrees Brix and firmness.

The mango quality research team developed additional components of the guide, including the recommendation that mangos should fall in stage two or higher at retail receiving. Because the information was gathered from mangos that had already been hot-water treated and transported, it is not recommended that this guide be used at harvest.

While the guide was developed as a hand-held tool, NMB is also delivering the information in a PDF format via e-mail that allows retailers to print it and hang it on a wall to be used as a poster.

In his letter to the trade, Mr. Watson said, "At the NMB, we're always looking for ways to help growers, suppliers and retailers succeed. To that end, we hope you find this guide to be helpful."

(For more on mangos, see the June 7, 2010, issue of The Produce News.)