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Strong mango market expected throughout fall

In the late summer early fall period — when Brazilian mangos dominate U.S. imports — the market is typically firm, but this year it is as strong as any season in recent memory and there is no let up in sight.

The strong early market is the result of several factors but probably the most prominent was the unpredicted decrease in supplies from Mexico in late August and into September. The mango recall of one of the larger late-season Mexican mango brands caused several retailers to switch their mango program a bit early this year, putting extra pressure on the supply of Brazilian product.

Albert Perez, managing partner of Continental Fresh Inc., Coconut Grove, FL, one of the larger Brazilian mango importers, said in mid-September that demand was "very good" for mangos and the price was strong at about $8 for a standard carton. He said quite a few Brazilian mangos were committed to fall retail ads, creating even a greater demand for spot market product. He anticipated that the market would remain strong throughout the Brazilian mango season.

Most of those contacted thought Brazil would bring in about the same volume of mangos to the United States this year that it has in the past. Brazil gets good action on its mangos in Europe, creating additional outlets for the crop. That additional demand also keeps the market fairly strong.

Jeff Nagelberg of Panorama Produce Sales Inc., located in Mamaroneck, NY, echoed Mr. Perez’s assessment. He said the market was very strong and he expected it to stay that way for the foreseeable future. In mid-September he characterized the market as "wonderful."

Ronnie Cohen, vice president of sales for Vision Import Group LLC, in River Edge, NJ, told The Produce News in early September that it was shaping up to be an excellent fall for the mango industry. He said reports from Brazil indicate "that it has been warm down there and they are a little ahead of themselves. It is a little earlier than usual and Ecuador has been delayed slightly."

He said that should create strong demand for the Brazilian fruit through the end of its season near the end of October and let the Ecuadorian product also get off to a good start when it get to its good volume period in November. "There might be a little gap (in heavy supplies) between Brazil and Ecuador right around Thanksgiving," he said.

But once Ecuador gets into its peak shipping period, he said "they should catch up pretty quickly and we should have great promotable supplies" throughout the late fall and into winter.

However, Mr. Cohen said he did not want to give the impression that there would be a lack of supplies in October. "There will be ample supplies but the market will be strong — probably $7-$8," he said.

Isabel Freeland, vice president and chief operating officer of Coast Tropical in San Diego, was of the same mindset. "We are going to start with our Ecuadorian deal in early October and we are going to have a 10 percent volume increase," she said. "I'm very happy to be earlier than others as I think it will be a strong market."

Coast Tropical is not a huge importer of Brazilian mangos, but she said the time period between this discussion in mid-September and the start of her Ecuadorian deal should see a continued strengthening in demand for mangos. She thought retailers would be ripe for good promotions once Ecuador gets underway.

Another importer looking forward to the start of the Ecuadorian deal was Larry Nienkerk of Splendid Products LLC, located in Burlingame, CA. Mr. Nienkerk's company was involved in the mango recall, which definitely decreased his supplies of Mexican mangos for the season and caught him up in a whirlwind of activity with government officials. "We are very much looking forward to start of Ecuador. We are going to have our normal program there," he said in early September.

He added that Ecuador as a whole is running a little bit later than most years but that there would be pockets of fruit following more normal timing. He anticipated that there would be some Ecuadorian fruit in the U.S. marketplace in early October.