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Coast Tropical opens two more Mexican packingsheds

As the Mexican mango season was getting underway, San Diego, CA-based Coast Tropical opened a new shed in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, which is one of the earlier producing regions. At the same time, it was building a new mango packingshed in Los Mochis, one of the later-producing areas.

“With these new sheds, we have complete control of our fruit from the beginning to the end of the season,” Isabel Freeland, vice president and chief financial officer of Coast Tropical, told The Produce News.

She said that the company now has six of its own mango packingsheds in Mexico with food safety being the key behind this business model.

“We now have full control,” she said. “Food safety is the big concern, and when it is your own house, you get to implement your own rules.”

isabelfreelandzamuIsabel FreelandMs. Freeland added that Coast Tropical has established new food-safety procedures and it can now be 100 percent certain that they are being followed.

Along with the new facilities, the firm expects to attract more fruit. “We think our volume will be up about 20 percent this year,” she said.

By the end of February, Coast Tropical had been shipping both the yellow-skinned Ataulfo variety and red-skinned Tommy Atkins for about two weeks from its Mexican facilities.

“The market is very strong right now and should hold through at least the third week of March,” she said. “After that, we will see more volume and prices will probably drop a little bit.”

The Coast Tropical executive said that the end of March, which this year features an early Easter (March 31), will see a little bit of an artificial gap in supplies. Because of the approaching holiday, the heavily Catholic Mexico tends to shut down from Holy Thursday (March 28) through Easter Sunday.

“It’s not that big of a deal as long as you plan ahead,” she said. “We have to pick ahead a week and plan for it.”

But other than that, Ms. Freeland expects the Mexican mango deal to be fairly straightforward this year with steady supplies throughout the spring and summer and a good market to boot.

Coast Tropical concentrates on the 10-pound carton as Ms. Freeland is not a fan of the clamshell and hasn’t seen any other packaging option that has caught her eye.

“I don’t think the clamshell is good for mangos,” she said. “I don’t think they breathe properly in there. I am always looking for other packaging and bags, but I haven’t seen anything that has attracted me.”

As always, she said the company will focus its attention and efforts on providing a high-quality, consistent pack to its customers. She added that one of the keys to increased sales is big promotions, so Coast Tropical will continue to encourage all of its customers to promote the fruit.

Two years ago, the company supplied tens of thousands of pieces of fruit to a local chain to build what was billed as the largest mango display in the world. Last year’s marketing conditions didn’t warrant a repeat but this year, she said the local chain might try to top that effort if supplies and pricing are there.

In the past year, the company has added two people to its Coast Tropical sales desk: Steven Goldner and Zenaida Serrapio.