To keep the annual budget at about $4 million, the board in September voted to increase the assessments to ¾ cents per pound. The industry is waiting for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to publish the proposed increase in the Federal Register. That starts a public comment period of 30-60 days, and the USDA will take the comments into consideration.
“It’s important for you to know that if the assessment is not increased, our annual budget will go back to about $3 million a year,” Watson said. “And at some point, the research programs will need to be scaled back.”
If approved, the 6.6-cent assessment on a 4-kilo box will not go to overhead costs, but retail and foodservice promotions, which have an immediate effect on consumption, he said.
But the board’s ultimate goal is a long-term change in how Americans see mangoes.
“This is not about increasing the market overnight,” Watson said. “This is about convincing consumers to change their purchasing habits.”
To demonstrate the board’s success over the past five years, Watson said the value of the mango crop has risen significantly, from $259 million in 2005 to $371 million in 2010.
“This is one key measure of the value of the mango industry,” he said.
The National Mango Board has planned a similar meeting at the America Trades Produce Conference. April 1 at the McAllen, Texas, Convention Center.