Based on current projections, the National Mango Board is estimating a fairly similar flow of mangos from Mexico in the May through August timeframe. The projected volume for those four months is approximately 42.1 million boxes, which compares favorably to the 41.4 million boxes that were imported in 2012 from our closest southern neighbor. These projections do not include fruit coming from Northern Sinaloa, which features theproduction area of Los Mochis, as the fruit was just in the beginning stages when these forecasts were made.
However, Larry Nienkerk, president of Splendid Products LLC in Burlingame, CA, said the late deal also looks very good and actually anticipates an increase in volume when that deal gets under way several months down the road. Splendid Products has been one of the leaders in volume from the most northern production areas of Mexico for many years.
The mango board has been aggressively marketing mangos all year and will continue with various efforts planned for the summer months. For the retail trade, Megan McKenna, National Mango Board director of marketing, said the commodity group has new point of sale material as well as new back room training pieces.
"The NMB is offering brand-new tools to help stores sell more mangos," she said. "Six new header card and tear-pad sets offer easy ways to incorporate mangos into your day-to-day menu."
In addition, the board has a new 22-inch by 28-inch poster that covers the basics of mango cutting, selection and ripening to help shoppers overcome these key barriers to purchase.
For the back room, the NMB has produced a piece focusing on a single important issue -- temperature management at the store. The new piece says "Treat Me Like A Banana," and uses produce associates' knowledge of proper banana storage to keep mangos out of the cooler in the backroom. "We've found too many stores holding mangos in the store back room cooler, which can cause chill damage," McKenna said.
Of course both the handling and the basics of mangos are very important in-store events as there are still many shoppers who just don't know what to do with a mango. For this reason, the mango board encourages sampling and has produced a new demo training video to help in-store representatives educate consumers. The three-minute video, which can be watched on a smartphone, can teach a demo or produce clerk how to select and cut a mango in very short order. The mango demo training video is available at mango.org/demovideo. The mango board will use this easy URL, plus a QR code to send demonstrators to the video from their computers, tablets or smartphones.
Another effort to move mangos at store level involves large displays. Brand-new for 2013, the board has produced high-graphic mango display bins and secured placements for them in more than 6,000 retail stores across the country. "More than 20 major retailers, including Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, Ahold, A&P, Wakefern, Raley's and many others participated in the program," said McKenna.
The displays feature colorful, eye-catching graphics that teach shoppers how to select, ripen and cut mangos. The display bins have been in use for several months and the NMB executive said feedback has been outstanding. At this point in time, all of the 2013 display bins produced have been distributed, but the board is anticipating continuing this popular program in 2014.
While many of these efforts tend to be utilized more often by the larger chainstores, the mango board makes a specific effort to also help small retailers. Once again this year it is sponsoring the Mango Mania Display Contest for small retailers. With more than $10,000 in cash prizes, this contest is specifically designed to help retailers with 50 or fewer stores amp up their mango promotions. "Competing stores will build an awesome mango display and leave it up for one week in July, then submit their entry with images to the NMB for judging," said McKenna.
This year, contest point-of-sale kits can be ordered online, and entries can be submitted online. Winners will be announced in September. More information is available at mango.org/contest.
Much of the board's consumer outreach is ongoing or occurred earlier in the season such as a New York City "mangover" media tour. Among the highlights of that event was a segment on The Rachael Ray Show by National Mango Board spokesperson Clinton Kelly. The NMB also hosted a sold-out consumer event featuring recipes using mango for breakfast, lunch and dinner and recently held a satellite media tour reaching close to 20 markets across the United States with key mango messages. Those media events include outreach to bloggers at various times throughout the season.
In the foodservice arena, mangos have seen great media coverage since the beginning of 2013. The National Mango Board had a strong presence at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago during the middle of May, featuring a mango salad to inspire foodservice operators to add fresh mango to their menu. The NMB also sponsored the Multicultural Cuisine Brunch during the show to showcase other mango recipes. The brunch is focused on reaching foodservice media.