By most accounts, it has been a very good Mexican mango season, and that should continue as this season moves forward. Harvesting of the crop has moved from the most southern Mexican states into Nayarit and Sinaloa, with volume expected to pick up in June and July. Even northern Sinaloa, which is the last area to produce, is expected to weather its early cold temperature problems and produce a near-normal crop.
“The sheds have just opened up in Nayarit,” Bill Vogel, president of Tavilla Sales Co. of Los Angeles, said Thursday, May 19. “There should be good Nayarit production by the middle of June, and it will last until the middle of July. By then, Sinaloa will be in production, and I believe they will have a regular-size crop, especially of red mangos. It is fair to say that there will be good, promotable supplies of mangos at a reasonable — if not low — price from June 15 to at least August 15.”
Chris Ciruli, chief operating officer of Ciruli Bros. in Nogales AZ, gave the rundown on the yellow mangos in which his firm specializes. “We had very good early volume for the yellow deal. We were hoping for a little better transition (from the southern districts to central Mexico), but it has been a little slow,” he said in mid-May. “But we are expecting good volume from the northern districts by early June. In June and July, the industry needs to be aggressive to move this crop.”
Mr. Ciruli said that by the middle of May, about 25 percent more mangos (20.4 million cartons compared to 16.3 million cartons) had been sent to the United States in 2011 than in 2010 at very similar prices. He said that this was a very good sign and showed that orderly marketing was taking place. “I wouldn’t call this a banner year, but it’s not a doldrums year either,” he said.
He did say that increased freight rates because of higher diesel gas prices were taking their toll on the price back to the grower. “We are getting good prices, but much of our sales are at a delivered price, and so the return back to the grower is not what it should be.”
Larry Nienkerk, manager at Splendid Products LLC in Burlingame, CA, is considered an import expert for the late deal, and much of Splendid’s imported production comes from the Los Mochis region in northern Sinaloa, Mexico. Earlier this year, northern Sinaloa was visited by a freezing storm that did hit the trees prior to bloom. Because of the timing of the freeze, the growers had to wait to see the impact, but many predicted that the crop would be adversely affected.
“It is not as serious as we thought,” said Mr. Nienkerk. “There is going to be slightly less fruit per tree — maybe 10 to 15 percent. But there is more acreage in production this year. Overall, I think volume is going to be fairly close to normal.”
And the bottom line, he said, is that near-normal production during the latter stages of the Mexican season, combined with normal production from southern Sinaloa, will mean lots of fruit to promote. “There will be no lack of volume,” he said.
Like the others The Produce News interviewed, Mr. Nienkerk said that aggressive promotion by U.S. retailers will go a long way to move the crop in an orderly fashion. Mangos are highly price sensitive with huge sales increases noted when aggressively priced at levels at retail such as two or three mangos for a dollar. While the tropical fruit has moved into the main stream, sales volumes in ethnic markets are astounding when price points are low. Shippers have often said that some of the relatively new chains that cater to an Asian or Hispanic clientele move three or four times more mangos through an individual store during a promotion than a typical supermarket with a more Anglo demographic.
Isabel Freeland, vice president of Coast Tropicals in San Diego, agreed with the volume assessments made by others. “I don’t think we are going to get affected by the freeze as much as was publicized. There is going to be a little bit of decrease, but overall no more than 10-15 percent less volume from the north [of Mexico].”
She added that thus far, it has been a very good season with good supplies and good prices. “We have been able to move the fruit in a moderate, consistent fashion. We haven’t seen a lot of big promotions by the large retail accounts, but some of the smaller ones have given us some support, and we are looking forward to much more [retail ad] support in June and July.”
She said that quality this year has been excellent, and all indications are that it will remain at the top end through the Sinaloa production.