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Mango importers looking for price rebound

The mango market hit rock-bottom prices this spring, but U.S. importers are expecting a better market as the summer wears on.

It appears that there were a number of factors leading to the low prices, including many different production areas, growers pushing the price too high too early and new players in the deal.

Larry Nienkerk, manager of Splendid Products LLC in Burlingame, CA, saw some encouraging marketplace signs in mid-May. Ecuador-mango-cuttingMangos being cut from a tree during harvesting in Ecuador."I see a little bit more strength in the market," he said May 16.

Through the early part of May, the mango was as low as it gets with $3 buying a carton of mangos more often than not during the first two weeks of the month.

But Nienkerk said Guatemala and Nicaragua were winding down and Mexican producers should have a good opportunity to gradually increase the f.o.b. and maintain a nice market through the rest of the summer.

The longtime mango importer said that conflicting reports were coming out of Sinaloa, which provides much of Mexico's mangos during the second half of the year and throughout the summer. "It's too early to tell for northern Sinaloa but in southern Sinaloa we have been told there was a pretty good bloom drop and they could be down in volume quite a bit."

Ronald Cohen, vice president of sales-member for Vision Import Group in River Edge, NJ, has heard the same reports but tends to take them with a grain of salt. "You just don't know," he said May 19. "Sometimes, the growers tell you that but they are only looking at their own trees. There are new trees coming into production and others that are a year older and are going to produce more. They aren't necessarily being deceptive. They just don't know. We just have to wait and see."

He agreed that the drop in volume from competing countries should allow an upward movement on the f.o.b. price. Cohen believes there will be fairly priced mangos at values conducive for retail promotions for the rest of the summer.

Though volume has been down so far this year, he believes "at the end of the deal, we will see another record crop of mangos from Mexico."

Gary Clevenger, managing member for Freska Produce International in Oxnard, CA, told The Produce News May 16 "that the market is about as low as I have seen it in a long time. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Right now supply exceeds demand and there is a lot of fruit out there."

But he said retailers are starting to respond to the very low price. "We are seeing some promotion for three, four and even five mangos for a dollar in some circumstances."

Clevenger said the promotions should move the mangos through the pipeline and create a better marketing situation moving forward. Like the others, he said the elimination of several production areas should help the market firm up. At one point, he said five production areas — Nicaragua, Guatemala, Brazil, Haiti and Mexico — all had fruit vying for customers. That in itself created a downward pressure on the price.

Isabel Freeland, vice president at Coast Tropical in San Diego, blamed low-cost sellers for the below-cost pricing. She said some sellers were offering mangos at below $3 per carton, even though there is no way to make money at the price.

But like the others, Freeland does expect the market to rise as summer approaches.