Numerous importers had received their first shipments of Mexican mangoes by early February, and they expected good quality and volumes for the season.
The ataulfo variety is the first available, with fruit coming from the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Michoacan, according to the National Mango Board.
Some shippers reported the season began a week or so earlier than usual, while others said the season got underway more or less on schedule for them.
Nissa Pierson, who manages sales and marketing for the Crespo Organic mango program at Rio Rico, Ariz.-based RCF Distributors, said weather has been mostly cooperative.
“Both (Oaxaca and Chiapas) suffered drought last year in the offseason but had really ample rains at really good times this year, so everything’s looking really nice,” Pierson said. “Wind went through the Oaxaca area, which is very common, but luckily most of the mangoes were already past the bloom stage.
“Volumes look really good out of the early regions, and then the northern regions are starting to flower well, and all the way up the coast there has been ample water at the right time, so if we look at it right now, from the entire-season perspective, it looks really great,” Pierson said.
Isabel Freeland, vice president of Los Angeles-based Coast Tropical, also described the weather as having set the stage for a strong season.
“We think that volumes and quality are going to be much better than last year,” Freeland said.
Greg Golden, partner in Vineland, N.J.-based Amazon Produce Network, also had a positive outlook.
“We expect it to be a great crop, expect it to be a little better in terms of sizing this year because there were some water issues (last year), especially in Oaxaca, with drought, and now they’ve gotten a good bit of rain and the groundwater levels have risen,” Golden said. “Being that it’s a highly non-irrigated region, a lack of rainfall can really affect your sizing and productivity, but everything just seems to be falling into place for nice production this year in southern Mexico.”
Angela Serna, communications manager for the National Mango Board, said the main sizes for ataulfos have been 20s and 18s.
The organization projects 29 million boxes of mangoes will ship through the week of May 19, an increase of 5% from the same period in 2017.
Across the board, importers reported strong demand, though tempered in January and the early days of February by cold weather in much of the U.S.
“Mango consumption and demand continue to be on the rise,” said Jessie Capote, partner in Miami-based J&C Tropicals. “Both conventional and organic mangoes continue to be promoted more often than ever before.”
Ronnie Cohen, partner in Hackensack, N.J.-based Vision Import Group, said he sees tremendous growth potential for the mango category.
He described mangoes as 8-10 years behind avocados, which have exploded in popularity in recent years and benefited greatly from the increasing use of conditioning programs for retail.
Golden said the Mexican mango deal in particular is likely to grow, driven in large part by increasing production in the Los Mochis area in northern Sinaloa.
“There is a tremendous amount of planting going on up there, acreage expanding, and they just keep stretching the season longer and longer and improving on yields with better field practices, so I think the Mexico mango deal will continue to grow and to stretch longer for years to come,” Golden said.