Education and promotion are driving mango consumption in the U.S.
“Most U.S. consumers did not grow up with mangoes in their homes and are not sure about how to select, cut or use them, so there is a big opportunity for the industry if we can bridge that knowledge gap,” said Greg Golden, partner and sales manager, Amazon Produce Network, Mullica Hill, N.J.
The National Mango Board focuses on teaching consumers, according to Megan McKenna, director of marketing.
“Although consumption is on the rise, the mango board continues to focus on key messages about selection and ripening and how to cut a mango. These are the biggest barriers for consumers to purchase mangoes,” McKenna said.
Others agree that education is a continuing area of focus for the industry.
“It’s a slow process, but we are reaching more and more people every year,” said Michael Warren, president, Central American Produce, Inc., Pompano Beach, Fla.
Choosing a mango is one of the main teaching points in the board’s outreach materials, but it isn’t as simple as simply educating consumers on what is best.
“Ideal ripeness is a personal choice, and some recipes call for a greater or lesser level of ripeness in the fruit,” she said.
“We want consumers to be well educated so they can choose the fruit that meets their needs, so we teach them to squeeze gently, and let them know that if the fruit is too firm they can leave it at room temperature to ripen for a few days,” McKenna said.
The board offers header cards and tear pads for use in retail locations.
Recipes are an effective tool for promoting mangoes at a retail level, and the board works with chefs and bloggers to create recipes each year, according to information from William Watson, executive director.
In-store demonstrations also are effective, according to suppliers.
“We believe the strongest promotional tools used to market mangoes in stores are cutting demos and large displays in areas of high foot traffic,” said Sandra Aguilar, marketing manager for Ciruli Bros. LLC.
Michael Warren, president of Central American Produce Inc., Pompano Beach, said he agrees retail stores have the opportunity to really reach consumers.
“Displays or promotions that provide cooked product for the customers in the store are helpful,” he said.
Seasonally, mangoes are good to promote in summer and late fall or early winter.
“Mangoes are great to promote in April through August and October through December. Volumes are more consistent year to year and very strong during those months,” said Isabel Freeland, vice president of San Diego-based Coast Citrus Distributors Inc.
Cinco de Mayo is the best holiday, however, according to Wade Shiba, managing partner at GM Produce Sales LLC, Hidalgo, Texas.
“Easter and Memorial Day are good, but the big one is Cinco de Mayo. I think we will have promotable volume for Cinco de Mayo this year. We’re hoping to have a good spring,” he said.
Online outlets are also popular.
“Having direct communication with consumers is extremely valuable. Their comments play a key role in the types of recipes we develop and the information that we publish,” Aguilar said.