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Coast Tropical expects good marketing situation for South American deal

Mango sales veteran Isabel Freeland, vice president of San Diego-based Coast Tropical, believes that things are lining up very well for a very strong South America mango deal this year.

“Ecuador is a little bit late, which should help Brazil. And we are expecting Peru to be as much as three weeks late, which will help Ecuador,” she said. “Each of those counties will have a little larger window to market their fruit this year, which should help growers in all three countries.”

Coat Tropical shifted its production from Mexico to Brazil in September, and expects Brazil fruit through the end of October. “So far the volume has been very good,” she said on Monday, September 12. “The quality is superb ... better than last year. We should see a steady flow of volume of gorgeous, red mangos ... through October.”

Though the fruit is in good demand and was returning a good market price in mid-September ($7.50 f.o.b in Miami), she said that it is always a shock to both customers and consumers when the volume shifts from Mexico to Brazil. “We always have to transition from the Mexico season, which has very low prices, to the Brazil season, in which the prices are significantly higher. We go from low cost to high cost, which shocks some people. But the costs in Brazil are higher. Our job [as sales people] is to stay firm and make sure we keep the market at the higher rate.”

Annually, Coast Tropical has a very big deal in Ecuador, and 2011 will be no exception, according to Ms. Freeland. “We have 1,000 hectares in production in Ecuador,” she said. “We are supposed to start shipping Ataulfos the third week in September, but we will only have two to three loads that have to last through October 15. Then we will see the volume increase significantly and take us all the way through January 15.”

When the Ecuador season is complete, Ms. Freeland expects the firm’s volume will be up from the previous season, led by a large increase in the shipments of the Ataulfo variety. Another new wrinkle for the San Diego-based firm’s Ecuadorian deal is that the company will be shipping directly to New York as well as Miami and the West Coast.

Brazilian exporters typically send all of their fruit to northeast U.S. ports. When Ecuador begins in October, the fruit is usually shipped from the west coast of Peru to the west coast of the United States. But once Brazil exits the deal, Coast Tropical will ship Ecuador fruit to New York for the first time. “We have some customers in New York that had skipped the fruit from Ecuador in the past, but now they want mangos 52 weeks a year, so that gave us this opportunity.”

She said that there is a significant savings on freight because it is more costly to land the fruit in Miami and truck it up to New York.

As Ecuador is winding down for Coast Tropical in late December and early January, the firm’s first shipments of Peru mangos will be loaded south of the equator and sent to the United States for arrival in mid-January. “Right now, we are hearing that Peru could be three weeks late,” said the Coast Tropical executive.

She said that cold weather is delaying the fruit bloom, but some of the larger growers will use chemical material to accelerate the growth as the weather warms.

This summer, Coast Tropical took part in the building of what was billed as the largest retail mango display ever. The event was held in at Foodland Mercado IGA, a local San Diego supermarket, and featured 11,000 cases of mangos. “They sold 150,000 mangos in three days,” said Ms. Freeland. “It was amazing.”

She also said that sales continued at an above-normal pace throughout the summer. “The only thing that slowed down sales was the end of the Mexican deal. We ran out of mangos,” she quipped. “It showed what can be done when you do good marketing and work together with retail on a creative idea.”