Mango deal begins with light volumeLighter volumes were reported early in the Mexican mango deal, and production in the north also could be down this year.

“Oaxaca is very tight on large fruit,” Sabine Henry, saleswoman for Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Central American Produce, said April 7. “Sixes through nines will be short for the next two weeks.”

By the second half of April, early Mexican volumes should return to more seasonally normal levels, though large fruit will still be more scarce than usual, Henry said.

The proximity of Easter to Cinco de Mayo, combined with the lighter volumes out of the south, could make Cinco promotions a challenge, said Chris Ciruli, partner in Nogales, Ariz.-based Ciruli Bros. LLC.

That said, with avocado and lime markets so tight, mangoes could still be an appealing option for retailers for Cinco, he said.

The week of April 7, Ciruli Bros. reported shortages of tommy atkins and haden varieties, sizes 9 and larger, Ciruli said. And while 12s and 14s were more plentiful, season-to-date volumes were running behind last season.

On April 8, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $7-7.50 for flats of one-layer tommy atkins 6-9s from Mexico, up from $6 last year at the same time.

As of April 8, it was hard to tell whether Mexican volumes would return to normal seasonal volumes in the coming weeks, said William Watson, executive director of the Orlando, Fla.-based National Mango Board.

“I don’t think anybody really knows,” he said.

Mexican supplies will be supplemented, however, by mangoes from Guatemala, Haiti and possibly other offshore sources this spring, Watson said.

“There will be a lot of good fruit in the marketplace,” he said. “Guatemala’s going pretty strong. They’ll go through May, and maybe into June.”

Through about mid- May, Central American Produce will get some relief on large sizes from Nicaragua, which was sizing larger than Mexico in early April. The company also expected to receive larger sized fruit from Guatemala through about the end of May.

In Nayarit and growing regions further north, growers have reported irregular blooms, which will likely affect kents and tommy atkins more than other varieties, Ciruli said.

“We’re not looking at a banner year out of the north, either,” he said.

For Henry, the size limitations early in the Mexican deal are just the latest chapter is what has been a tumultuous season for mango marketing.

“It’s been an amazing roller coaster on mangoes all year,” she said. “It’s been very volatile.”

While the Mexican deal will start to hit its groove later in April, prices will still likely be higher than normal, Henry said.

Instead of $4-4.50 markets in May, Henry expects prices to stay more in the $5.50-6 range. And in July, $4.50-5, not $3.50, will be the more likely price, she said.