Article Originally Written for and Published by Organic Produce Network
Season predictions have become challenging as “typical” Mexican mango seasons become tenuous. Erratic weather is the new norm and difficult to gauge weather patterns significantly impede forecasting ability. Making this particular season even more challenging to foretell is the ceaseless organic demand, which many buyers describe to be moving at an overwhelming pace, despite most producers reporting slightly higher than normal season to date volume outputs in organics.
Demand is expected to continue to move neck and neck with supply even as we slip deeper into Mexico’s strongest and most voluminous regions and peak production. “During this Mexican season demand has appeared to exceed supply and unlike conventional fruit, volumes are more finite, which has keep the markets stable and the focus on basic growth”, shares Noe Arias, sales manager for Amazon Produce Network (West Coast Division).
The season has been deluged with constant buzz of a massive abundance of fruit “right around the corner”, yet this glut has yet to appear. As the industry prepares to settle into the most active portion of the season, a focus on fill rates and precision planning has taken the place of excess and glut talk. Prices are up, stable and haven’t seen significant valleys since the onset of the season. Arias confirms what most the industry reports, “organic prices are up on average $0.50 – $0.75 a case compared to last year.”
Current bewildering weather patterns have producers and sellers in a tight corner as summertime demand revs up. “Cold nights when it’s supposed to be warm, dry weeks when it’s supposed to be wet, have made the season incredible hard to predict”, notes Arias. The Mexican heat wave and dry spell, that’s had several other organic commodities experiencing shortages and unpredictability, has held Nayarit and Sinaloa mangoes in the same holding pattern, keeping round mangoes on the small side. Mangoes need both heat and water in order to size up, according to Jose Angel Crespo of RCF Distributors & Empaque Don Jorge, Rosario, Sinaloa. “Currently a majority of the fruit from all Mexican producers is on the small size because of the lack of rain. The fruits current aversion to sizing up makes it difficult to forecast with accuracy and waiting for the fruit to size up has proven unreliable, as its simply not sizing as it typically would” shares Crespo.
The more delicate Ataulfo varietal, which has seen significant growth in the organic marketplace over the last several years, is facing its own set problems due to the excessive heat, which has hastened the overall maturity rate. This has yielded exceptionally sweet flavored (high brix) fruit for the consumer, but it also means unpredictable supplies of rapid to ripen fruit for buyers. The Mexican Ataulfo season is predicted to end early because of this increased maturation rate, with most industry insiders predicting another 3- 4 weeks tops.
Some well-needed rains were just dropped on the region. Those rains have the potential to, not only, help the round fruit size up, but to elongate the current regions season, including ataulfos. Right now most retailers are hoping this is the case and that stability for the remainder of the season ensues. A sizable, constant excess of fruit for the summer months is no longer predicted, but according to Arias, July will be the month where greater abundance will appear and organic markets will face pricing pressure from conventional markets, which are predicted to be ample with Nayarit, Sinaloa and Los Mochis fruit, all producing simultaneously.
The Los Mochis region, which typically finishes off the Mexican season, will be important to keep an eye on weather wise and give insight into the season ending, which can vary significantly as we saw last season, which lasted abnormally long; well into October.
Reports of “enough” fruit on the trees to fill current demands seems to be the consensus as is the overwhelm expected to be felt by growers, shippers and buyers trying to keep the consumer, whose currently buzzed with mango mania, happy and buying mangoes!