Research delves into perceptions on ripening, irradiation and nutrition.
The National Mango Board takes research very seriously as they seek to expand not only consumer knowledge, but also industry knowledge.
The board’s Ripe and Ready to Eat mango program is in its second year, and ripening experts are working to test fruit temperatures throughout the distribution system.
“If there are opportunities to improve the consumer’s mango eating experience through temperature management, we need to know what those are,” said Kristine Concepcion, communications specialist.
Concepcion said that the program is designed to provide tools for the industry to consider developing a ripening system since consumers continually have trouble determining when a mango is ripe.
In addition, the board had a Web seminar scheduled on April 4 to present its initial findings through this research program.
Some key findings focus on temperatures throughout distribution, such as chilling injuries can occur if mangoes are kept below 54 degrees.
In addition, the board believes that developing a minimum quality index will help keep consumers satisfied.
“In general, consumer acceptance increases from about 25% to 35% to 80% to 85% just by the magic of ripening,” Concepcion said.
Despite advance with bringing irradiated mangoes into the U.S., many consumers and shippers are still mostly uninformed about the process.
“There has been some research completed and published on the mango board website, but real-life commercial experience is minimal at this point,” said Greg Golden, partner and sales manager at Amazon Produce Network, Mullica Hill, N.J.
Still, the interest is there.
“The interest level is high. We’ve woken up to a new season with some major retailers in the U.S. embracing this,” said Arved Deecke, chief executive officer of the Benebion Irradiation Facility, Matehuala, Mexico.
“Last year everyone wanted to be the last to move toward this, but now some big ones are saying yes, and some are saying they’ll switch completely over.”
The board has focused some of its time and resources in determining consumer reactions to irradiated fruit.
“Results from the 2011 NMB Consumer Attitude and Mango Usage survey indicated that after consumers know the benefits of irradiation the interest in buying irradiated mangos was 47% among the current mango purchases and 21% among the non-mango buyers,” said Megan McKenna, director of marketing.
Digestion and nutrition
Other research that might be considered more in the future has to do with digestion and nutrition benefits.
Greg Golden, partner and sales manager at Amazon Produce Network, Mullica Hill, N.J., said mangoes may have an opportunity to expand more into the senior citizen demographic based on nutrition information.
“I am hoping that if funding permits the mango board will pursue some research studies on digestion to actually have some scientific basis to promote mangoes as a digestive aid,” Golden said.
The board already conducts regular nutrition research on mangoes and markets those results to help promote mango sales.