Mango shippers have noticed an increase in demand for yellow mangoes, as well as other less mainstream varieties.
“We’re seeing more of an increase in demand for yellow-skinned varieties. You aren’t seeing more traditional varieties like tommy atkins being planted. You are seeing more kents and ataulfos being planted,” said Ken Nabal, president of Kingston Fresh, Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Not everything is easy to define by trends, though, as consumers tend to divide themselves into groups based on which variety is their personal preference.
“There are six major varieties that are commercially grown and a couple of them are more popular than others but it’s like anything else, consumers are going to have their own personal favorites,” said Ronnie Cohen, vice president of sales, Vision Import Group, River Edge, N.J.
Seasonality is also a factor.
“At certain times of the year, different countries give us different varieties. There are some fabulous varieties and using that seasonality can really give you the best bets for flavor,” Cohen said.
However, while adding variety to mango offerings is good for the overall growth of the category, it does bring some challenges with educating consumers that not all mango varieties look the same on the outside.
“One of our industry’s biggest challenges is to educate consumers that when choosing mangoes, great taste does not always begin with great looks,” said Sue Duleba, director of operations, GM Produce Sales LLC, Hidalgo, Texas.
In addition, consumers need to know that scarring on the outside of a mango isn’t necessarily a sign of internal defects, according to Duleba.
“Varieties such as hadens, kents and ataulfos are very delicate and scar easily and might not be as appealing to the eye, but the meat is luscious and buttery and is not affected by the scarring on the outside,” Duleba said.
Greg Golden, partner and sales manager for Mullica Hill, N.J.-based Amazon Produce Network, is excited about the future of the mango category, specifically because of the opportunity for new varieties.
“There are probably 1,000 or more mango varieties and only a few are grown in commercial quantities, but one of the most exciting things about the category is that there is so much varietal difference between the types of mangoes. We just haven’t seen it yet in this country,” Golden said.