A deep dive into the when’s, why’s and how’s of the firm fleshed, farmer friendly mango
My favorite mango is a Tommy Atkins, but it’s not because it’s farmer and supply chain friendly. It’s my favorite because it’s culinarily versatile and it also happens to be farmer and supply chain friendly which isn’t a bad thing.
If you google Tommy Atkins, one of the first links is Wikipedia which describes in the first sentence the Tommy as not generally considered the best in terms of sweetness andflavor. If you ask me, this sets up Tommy for a negative bias before you’ve even seen one in real life. Yes, the statement that follows is true, basically saying: it’s grown because it fares well in the production and import supply chain. But, for real, this is a gigantic part of the equation, in all parts of the world, for all commodities. Not unique to Tommy.
Before you hear the retort from an adoring Tommy Atkins fan, based on my professional mango expertise and observations, not to mention my culinary exploits, I want to report that we have harvested the first organic Tommy Atkins from El Grupo Crespo’s southern orchards and, as this glides into your inbox, our southern packhouses are cleaning, polishing, and packing them into several of our most coveted packaging SKU’s: the Crespo Big Box, Net Bags and the old faithful Crespo 4KG case (all of which have been designed to look dashing as both big and small mango displays while also proving strong as stand-alone displays and storage).
Climate-induced unpredictability & heightened demand creates chaos in mangoland
The show must go on. Our annual summer promotion, Crespo Organic Summer Mango Mania #MuchosMangoes starts today despite ultra-chaotic, confused markets particularly on the conventional side, which creates significate pressures on the organic side of things. Despite considerably delays with the Nayarit fruit starting, our show goes on and we expect our peak volumes and the mango mania to coincide with the month of July, kind of as planned.
McAllen enjoys the last fruits of our labor while Nogales embraces a bit more propaganda
Here is the brief take-away from this article: Hot water baths are not bad, and untreated fruit is not better. The end of the season is complex for all- let facts be your guide.
For a handful of us who grow extensively in the El Rosario area during the Sinaloa season, mango supplies can often be extended all the way into the first week of September. While other broker-sellers move to the untreated Mochis zone (which jump up significantly in price and size), we can stay longer in lower prices and smaller fruit. Naturally, this benefits our volume-driven sellers a great deal, knowing most customers have a price point they must adhere to in order to capture sales. In some regions, consumers will only pay so much for a mango; this is particularly true in the Midwest and on the east coast. So, just a touch below the arbitrary untreated zone line, the Rosario region offers a micro growing region where we can do just that – provide smaller, cheaper mangoes throughout the entire month of August.
The yin and yang of seasonal rains, an abundance of complexities
Someone asked me recently why I haven’t posted anything under my Secrets & Lies category for a while. Most of the truth of my answer was I forgot about it. But buried in that answer is also, I (like everyone) sometimes don’t like to talk about the truth because its complex and I fear people won’t understand, will take it the wrong way or use it against me. When you also speak on behalf of a brand or a big mango system, it can be frightening to put out hard truths.
The lack of communicating existing or potential quality problems is one of the biggest industry secrets and lies there is, as if burying these truths helps anyone. So here I am being the risktaker/bettermaker that I am. Here to not alarm us, but put us into a proactive stance, where information is the key to the successful remainder of the Mexican mango season.
We have been in the midst of a serious drought that has brought a multitude of complexities to the entire Mexican mango season thus far. Those complexities seem likely to continue as seasonal rains have started, pounding the current Sinaloa growing sub regions (around El Rosario and Esquinapa) with lots of water over the last few weeks.
While it’s true that any amount of rain always brings some drought relief, it can also bring with other problems, especially when the pendulum swings to totally to the other side as it has going from no rain to lots at once.
Currently Crespo Organic is on the downside of peak of Kent season from Sinaloa. The Nayarit region has finished and all packhouses in that region have closed. Our orchards in Sinaloa, which dot the surrounding area of our hometown El Rosario and encircle our main packhouse, Empaque Don Jorge, are brimming with ample volumes and varied sizes. We are currently harvesting Kent mangoes and, in a few weeks, will be harvesting Mexico’s final variety- the Keitt. The best news to report is that the outstanding quality we have seen all season long is currently looking to trend the same through most of August, more than that, I find the foretelling of the end of the Mexican mango season difficult.
Mango Holding Area, Empaque Don Jorge, El Rosario, Sinaloa Mexico
Boasting the most efficient and modern mango pack house around
Disclaimer:This is a boastful and prideful post about a packing house that I truly believe in. I’m one of a few globally well-traveled industry folks with an extremely diverse make up of commodities, markets, cultures and systems. I have seen a lot of packing houses and “sheds” in my travels and this one is my personal favorite- which is why I’ work with them. Boasting this facility and the Crespo’s is the natural outcome of my true beliefs.
We don’t talk enough about packing houses in our business yet this is the one place that usually solves and/or causes most problems in terms of product quality and food safety. Most fruits and vegetables are harvested and then brought to a packing house or shed where they are then packed into various bulk or retail packaging. These large and small sorting/packing hubs serve as the distribution outlet for the farm and/or the farmers. These facilities can be modern, elaborate, high tech, clean and simple, dirty and even bare bones covered (shaded) tables where things like fresh herbs are packed right out of the field.
Sleuthing through the noise north and south of the border
The truth is not always easy to find. It’s much like self-awareness. You have to have a great deal of will to find it. The current mango market is a strange one that has a lot of folks asking questions about what’s currently happening and what’s next.
In addition to produce being fickle in general, global warming has made forecasting difficult and unpredictable. Making matters worse, the industry is getting ultra-competitive with skinnier profit margins and higher operating costs. Mangoes -all the while- are a booming business. American consumers increasingly clamor for this sweet fruit, and there is little demand slowdown in sight. To-the-minute information is almost impossible to get right and those able to provide it often feel like they’re yielding what little power they have left by sharing it.
The business of growing food for the American and Canadian markets in Mexico can often seem, and often times is, a strain on the environment. Regardless of whether your climate change viewpoints fall right, left or center, we could all agree that the unpredictable nature of weather affects us all. As more and more people around the globe lean more towards believing in climate change, more resources are shifted into its science and studies, and with that comes not only solutions but simple information that can sometimes surprise us all.
New studies are continuing to emerge leading to conclusions that mango orchards can help mitigate climate change.
Weeks 8-12 are the problem. Last Friday there was an early morning surge of mango chatter amongst industry folks. A handful of the bigger conventional players released a series of statements —more like warnings, in the form of internal and external emails, the subject being massive shortages of round mangoes as the Peruvian season winds down and transitions into Mexican and Central American fruit.
Mutually beneficial results from a direct trade model
In 2015 El Grupo Crespo and I, together, took a big risk and eliminated the middle man; we laid the groundwork to sell Crespo Organic Mangoes using a direct trade approach. This began with revamping the (original) Crespo family mango brand. We notified the bevy of wholesale and retail customers who had been buying our mangoes from well-known intermediaries – explaining how this would benefit them in the short- and long run – and asked them to please support us. Three years into this adventure, it has proven to be a fruitful approach for our customers, consumers and the long-term viability of our farm and business.
Under The Mango Tree is a sweet spot, where I, a long time mango industry crackerjack, share everything I know. A place to find mango centric, agricultural, food and culture knowledge and a few juicy industry secrets and lies.