Mexico’s golden yellow ataulfo mango, which is gaining popularity in North America for its buttery sweet flesh and thin pit, has a little secret.
Along with full-sized fruit, the trees produce tiny but mature mangoes about 2.5 inches long.
In the past, growers didn’t harvest the baby fruit since there’s no market for it, said Wendy McManus, director of marketing for the National Mango Board, Orlando, Fla.
But times are changing, she said, and the tiny mangoes are starting to appear in Mexican markets with catchy names and fun graphics to attract kids.
“In Mexico and in southern Arizona, a hotbed of mango consumption, we’ve seen them packaged in a small box where you can see the fruit through a cut-out, or in a mesh bag with a printed seal across the top that could make it a hang product,” McManus said.
North of the border
Baby ataulfos, promoted as finger mangoes, were also sighted in random weight yellow mesh bags at the T&T Asian supermarket in Toronto, owned by Brampton, Ontario-based Loblaw Cos. Ltd.
The opportunity is huge to create a new market for kids in the U.S., McManus said, but the mango industry isn’t sure how best to move forward.
“The next step will be to have a retailer and a shipper decide it’s an opportunity, get them together with the right packaging and create a market for it,” she said.
“The fruit is there, but it’s going to take some work, research and collaboration to make it happen,” she said.
Mexican ataulfos are available from March to September.