GM Produce Sales LLC, which is among the larger importers of Mexican mangos into the United States, has added a new retail specialist and expects to increase its volume by close to 20 percent.
JoJo Shiba, who heads the Los Angeles office for the Hidalgo, TX-based firm, announced the hiring of mango industry veteran Tom Argyros as the western retail specialist. Mr. Argyros has been in the produce industry for more than two decades and has been concentrating on mango sales since 1995.
“I worked as a retail specialist for Diazteca from 1995 to 2004,” he said. “Then I was with Splendid Products from 2005 through 2011. Since 2011, I have been with L&M Produce as a product manager and I have just joined GM,” he told The Produce News Feb. 25.
With Mr. Argyros concentrating on retail sales to the larger chains, GM has ambitious plans. Ms. Shiba said the firm’s two labels — “Marathon” and “Finish Line” — have great acceptance with wholesalers and many ethnic retailers, but the hiring of the new retail specialist is designed to go after some business from the larger chains.
Mr. Argyros, who will work out of a new office in Nogales, AZ, believes there is much room for growth.
“Last year, [GM Produce] brought about 1.5 million boxes of mangos through Nogales,” he said. “This year we are looking to do 3 [million] or 4 million boxes. I will be working with JoJo to expand sales to western retailers.”
The industry-wide crossing reports show that GM Produce Sales imported more than 7 million cartons of Mexican mangos in 2012, which was significantly more than the next largest importer. Ms. Shiba said the firm only imports Mexican mangos, which means it is the mango deal for about six to eight months each year: typically from late February into September.
Last year, weather reduced the company’s volume from the previous year, but Mr. Argyros believes this could be a record-setting year for the firm. He said mangos are a cyclical crop and the firm is expecting a bumper crop from most of its packers after last year’s weather issues.
“We probably lost a million cartons last year, but we should more than make that up this year,” said Mr. Argyros.
All things being equal, he said the firm should top 9 million cartons of mangos from Mexico. The majority of those will cross in Texas at the McAllen crossing in the Rio Grande Valley.
Ms. Shiba said that it has been a very busy offseason as the company has been working with all of its packingsheds to make sure they are both GAP- and GFSI-certified.
A mango recall for another importer near the end of last season has many U.S. customers asking for increased documentation. “It is not an easy thing for some of these Mexican packers to do,” said Ms. Shiba.
She said that GM has been working with its packers and all of them appear to be set for certification, but she added that might not be the case throughout the country. She said it is possible that overall supplies from Mexico might be affected as the season wears on.
As always, the mango harvest begins in the most southern states and moves north through the spring and into the summer as the weather heats up. The Mexican landscape is dotted with mango packingsheds as more than a half-dozen states have some commercial production.