Any mango subject to import standards requiring fruit be cooked 75-90 minutes loses something in the process, but the fibrous tommy starts out at a disadvantage, as Levy de Barros sees it.
“It’s incredible that we cook a mango,” he said. “But otherwise you have to look for fruit grown in fly-free areas.”
The best-tasting mango he ever had was the sindhri from Pakistan.
“You want to cry when you eat that mango, it’s so absolutely fantastic,” he said.
The sindhri is not available in the U.S., but there’s plenty to choose from among the varieties.
“The market here is still very much fixated on the tommy,” Levy de Barros said. “I’m trying to open this up. You cannot sell a tommy in France anymore. People just refuse it. They want kent, a green mango that’s much better. Europe is moving to kents and palmers.”
HLB does about 40% of its produce business in Europe.
But does mango diversification really have a chance in the U.S.?
“There are clients, even supermarkets, who say ‘OK, I want to give my customers something different,’” he said.
“That’s the type of work we do. But it takes a long time to talk to and educate the receivers. Maybe the mango is going to be a little soft and you have to taste it in the supermarket so people can see the difference.”