Spring brings Mexican mangoes to the U.S., and this year, it should bring a lot more of them than last year.
“We’re getting started in February with ataulfos,” said Steve Yubeta, vice president of sales for Nogales, Ariz.-based Farmer’s Best International.
“In mid- to late March we’ll start with hadens and tommy atkins.”
The ataulfos are expected to warm up gradually.
“The first pickings look like they’ll be on the small size,” Yubeta said.
“We’ll size up after a couple weeks. For the red varieties, volume will be better in mid-April and stay strong through September.”
He expected mango volume overall to be up considerably this year, but declined to estimate how much.
Nogales-based Ciruli Bros. planned to start its ataulfos, marketed under the Champagne label, by the last week of February. Its mangoes grown in Chiapas and Oaxaca will pass through Texas, though, not Arizona.
“We just added about 30,000 square feet of cold room in our Donna, Texas facility,” said Chuck Ciruli III, chief executive officer.
“We’ll have that ready by March 1 and do more than 60% of our mango crop through there.”
The Donna facility was 60,000 square feet to begin with, but only half was refrigerated. Now it will be complete.
“We’ll also be able to use it in November on vegetables and tomatoes,” Ciruli said.
“And we’ll be able to offer warehousing services in the offseason to other companies.”
The company forecast a 30% bump in Champagne volume this year to match retail demand. They tout the yellow ataulfo for its nonfibrous texture.
“It looks like a good crop with promotable supplies by March 1,” he said.
“We’re constantly planting more for the future.”
Ciruli Bros.’ offerings also include larger kent and keitt mangoes.
Elsewhere in the state — in Pharr, Texas — a recently launched produce business, Vision Produce Partners of Texas, plans to import mangoes and other Mexican commodities.
Majority partner Bill Vogel, who helped found Los Angeles-based Tavilla Sales, said he expects 20 loads of mangoes weekly in February, and double that in March. He planned to ship under the El Sol and generic labels at first.
The other partners, Raul Millan and Ron Cohen, are with New Jersey-based Vision Import Group.
Staff writer Coral Beach contributed to this report.