California shutdown cuts into mango imports

04/06/2006 12:00:00 AM
Chris Koger

(April 6) Ciruli Bros. LLC, Nogales, Ariz., is slowly rebuilding its trademarked Champagne mango program following a 12-day shutdown of a packing facility when California inspectors found two Mexican fruit fly larvae in a load of the mangoes.

The Tapachula, Chiapas, facility reopened on March 27, but partner Chris Ciruli said the company won’t be back to full volumes until April 17, the day after Easter. The company destroyed the load of mangoes, and several Ciruli Bros. truckloads of eggplants, beans and other perishables waiting for entry also were lost.

“There were several chain store ads we had to downsize or just totally cut out,” Ciruli said. “It was the last three-week period prior to Easter, so it’s hard to say what the long-term (financial) effect will be.”

Eighty-five percent of the company’s mango program is under the Champagne label for the ataulfo variety. Ciruli said a Michoacan packing shed remained in operation, but the Chiapas shed accounted for 80% of the company’s mangoes at the time.

Overall, Ciruli Bros.’ mango imports, originally estimated to be 1 million cartons this season, could be down 100,000 to 150,000 cartons.

The find triggered inspections of the company’s packing sheds in Mexico and its Nogales facility, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service checked almost 1,200 mangoes without finding another fly larva, Ciruli said.

Imported mangoes must be treated to a 115-degree water bath for at least 70 minutes.

The larvae were found on March 15, three weeks after Ciruli Bros. started shipping this season. Inspectors with the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Vidal, Calif., pest exclusion branch reported finding a live larva.

Similar finds shut down other shippers in 2000 and 2001, and as in those cases Ciruli Bros. contests the larvae were alive when found.



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