( Courtesy National Mango Board
)

Mangoes already are an extremely popular item in restaurants, but industry members heard from some subject matter experts about how to boost the fruit’s acceptance even more during a web seminar sponsored by the National Mango Board on June 30.

Mangoes currently show up on 40% of restaurant menus across the U.S., said Mike Kostyo, resident trendologist and senior managing editor of the marketing intelligence team at Datassential, the Chicago-based market research firm.

That 40% figure “is really strong menu penetration,” he said.

In the past year alone, the growth rate was 6%.

The highest menu penetration is at full-service establishments, where almost half the restaurants feature mangoes on their menus.

“This is a really strong indicator, because a lot of trends tend to start in those full-service restaurants, then they’ll move over into the limited-service restaurants,” he said.

“There’s a real opportunity here for some of those limited service restaurants — QSRs and fast-casual — to increase their mango penetration.”

Popularity of mangoes does not vary much by region.

Menu penetration is 44% in the West and Northeast and 40% in the Midwest and South.

A wide range of restaurants feature mangoes on their menus, including 19.5% of American restaurants, 14.4% of Mexican eateries and 8.5% of Indian dining establishments.

And they’re very versatile.

“You’re not just seeing them on the breakfast or dessert menus, which is sometimes the case for fruit,” Kostyo said.

Mangoes are used in many applications, but the most common is blended drinks, which is a great place to be, he said.

“This is a category that is growing,” he said. “Cafes and coffee shops across the country continue to open.”

Mangoes have proven to be a consumer favorite.

Kostyo said 79% of consumers have tried them, and of that number, 80% love or like them.

He cited some examples of “mangoes in action” — how they’re used at some popular locations.

The strawberry and mango salad at On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina earned an 80 percentile purchase, meaning that the offering scored higher than 80% of the items tested in the data base.

“It’s high scoring and a savory option,” he said. “It speaks to the real versatility of mangoes.”

The tropical chicken taco with mango papaya salsa from Yard House also scored an 80% purchase intent.

Kostyo seemed especially impressed with a dessert option — triple mango ice cream from Baskin-Robbins.

“Not only does this score very highly for purchase intent — better than 75% of all the other options we tested — but this scored really, really high (88%) for uniqueness,” he said.

“That’s kind of the Holy Grail for an item,” Kostyo said. “If you can combine high purchase intent with high uniqueness, it means it’s something consumers really want to try, but also something they can only get from your operation.”

Mango category movement isn’t slowing down.

Mangoes beat 96% of the ingredients and flavors in the database in terms of growth, Kostyo said.

He expects their popularity to grow another 10% over the next four years.

Chef Jason Hernandez, consultant at Blade & Tine Culinary Consulting, demonstrated for webinar viewers a number of ways to use mangoes, such as mango bread, fresh mango puree, mango glaze and mango smoothies and showed how different stages of ripeness can be appropriate for different dishes.

Tim Beerup, president of Beerup Inc., a produce supply chain consultant, wrapped up the presentation by focusing on the need to offer quality mangoes.

“Our industry needs to create a new mango paradigm,” he said. “We need to be focused on creating a best in fresh mango advantage for the foodservice industry.”

He said he believes mangoes are on the same trajectory as avocados when it comes to achieving consumer acceptance.

“We’re already in people’s hearts and minds,” he said, “What we need to do is elevate the mango and present it in its best light.”

That can be accomplished by ensuring customers consistent, high-quality, flavorful mangoes, Beerup said.

He called for careful attention to ripening programs, product sourcing and varietal selection to ensure consistent flavor and quality.

“We need a guaranteed good product showing up at a foodservice distributor and operator,” he said.

“We need to create sourcing and supply chain integrity that will help get us there.” 

 

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