Professor Mango leads students through the National Mango Board’s Mango University, graduates of which receive a Mango University diploma and $5.
Professor Mango leads students through the National Mango Board’s Mango University, graduates of which receive a Mango University diploma and $5.

The National Mango Board expects to keep rolling after the departure of William Watson, its first executive director, in April.

Mango consumption has jumped 53% since the board was launched in 2005, according to the board.

“Under his watch, our fragmented industry became unified, consumption rose markedly and the board and staff developed a high degree of professionalism,” Bill Vogel, chairman. “While we lament his departure, the board will earnestly pursue the course he has outlined for us.”

The board plans to choose a new executive director in September, said Megan McKenna, marketing director.

Mexico is the primary mango supplier to the U.S., having shipped about 65.9 million boxes to U.S. markets. Production for the upcoming year is projected at about 61 million — a little lower, which is due primarily to weather challenges in North Sinaloa that have cut into production there by about 50%, according to data from the board.

Brazil started its season in early August and will run through mid-November, according to the board. Brazil shipped about 5.8 million boxes of mangoes into the U.S. last year.

Brazil’s estimate for this year is around 6.5 million boxes.

Ecuador starts its mango season by the end of September, running until early January. Ecuador shipped about 10 million boxes of fruit last year, according to the board.

Ecuador is expected to reach peak shipments during mid- and late November.

“The season is expected to have a 20% less of production due to climate conditions,” McKenna said.

Last year, Peru began its season during the last week of November and ran until mid-March. Peru shipped about 12 million boxes to the U.S. last year, McKenna said.

Many possibilities

There is plenty of room for mango consumption to grow further, McKenna said. 

“There are many possibilities for mangoes in the U.S.,” she said.

Among the reasons she listed:

  • Only 27% of consumers know how to select a ripe mango;
  • 35% of consumers say they just don’t think about mangoes; and
  • Mango sales only make up four-tenths of a percent of the produce department at retail.

In addition, mango sales increased 14% to $214 per store per week at retail in 2013, McKenna said, noting that menu penetration for mangoes is 15.4% in foodservice.

The board advises retailers to build sales by building noticeable displays, McKenna said.

“Mangoes are most often an impulse item, so eye-catching displays can make a huge difference in sales,” she said.

The board also advises moving mangoes out of tropicals and into mainstream fruit displays and showcase multiple varieties and different levels of ripeness.

There’s an educational component, too, McKenna said.

“Teach shoppers how to select, ripen and cut mangoes, and use (point-of-sale) materials from the National Mango Board and be sure all produce staff knows how to do it themselves,” she said.  

During the fall and winter, shoppers might need suggestions for how to use mangoes, and the mango board’s website (mango.org/find/recipes) offers ideas, McKenna said.

Retailers also should maintain quality by keeping mangoes out of the cooler in the store, McKenna said.

“Don’t put them in the back room cooler. Don’t display them on refrigerated racks. Keep mangoes at room temperature at the store to avoid chill damage — always,”she said.

She also urged retailers to handle the fruit gently and not to stack more than two pieces of fruit deep.

Board offers help

In April, the mango board launched its Mango Mover retail e-mail newsletter.

The board also has launched Mango University, a training program designed specifically for store-level produce employees, McKenna said.

The course includes two short videos, downloadable class notes and a 10-question final exam, McKenna said.

Eligible students who pass the final will receive a diploma and $5. Mango University is at www.mango.org/university.

“Our philosophy is that retailer enthusiasm and support is the most important element for a successful promotion, so we customize each promotion to fit the retailer’s needs and goals,” McKenna said.