An opportunity knocking down the door
I originally started to write this blog to share important news on the organic mango industry to organic mango customers and interested consumers in real time. I saw a gap between what I was privy to versus what American buyers knew (or didn’t know is more like it) when it came to mangoes, organics and certainly the day-to-day crop and market interrelations.
In my early years, I had learned that when buyers had factual information, long-term (and better) sales opportunities could be made. Stronger relationships were built between consumers, buyers and farmers which set us off on a greater solution-oriented trajectory.
I’ve been working in the organic mango industry for about thirteen years now embedded mostly in Mexico, Ecuador and Peru. My job all those years has essentially been to sell the crops, but my way of selling has always been more of pairing. Pairing farmers and the realities of the crops with the needs and expectations of buyers, while having a finger on the pulse of what the consumer wants, knows and can shift into. After all change is inevitable not just on the farm, but on the palettes and plates of consumers as well.
Sometimes this is easy work, but mostly it’s really difficult. I have found that the more information I can offer to buyers, the easier it is to figure out solutions during problematic times.
The Chiapas & Oaxacan Ataulfo crop is currently working against market expectations and yielding mostly small-sized fruit. As I have reported in the last few years global warming is real and completely unpredictable and hard to gauge considering the number of micro climates and micro growing regions in the southern regions. This year the regions are facing considerable drought which is keeping the fruit from growing big and in many cases simply growing less fruit.
The fruit coming from the orchards, both organically and conventionally, is considerably less than early onset season predictions calculated. The market is short and long at the same time and therefore a bit confused. This is causing a lot of chaos in our organic marketplace which has learned to love big fruit – in part because of our own good work.
When this happens, market expectations and crop yields vary, I try and remember that market demand and consumer demand are different and that, every once in a while, this variance pushes us into an opportunity to expand market demand by proving consumers are more flexible than we think.
This takes clear channels of information flow and a solutions-style sales strategy. This is also why I am a fan of the DIRECT TRADE approach we have taken here at Crespo Organic. This system clarifies communication so that everyone’s expectations are clearer and more adaptable as needed.
In this case – the case of the little Ataulfos – we have the opportunity to shift size expectations. Just as we did it upward when we introduced greater amounts of 12 and 14 sized fruits to customers who now have thriving and large Ataulfo programs in the larger sizing. It’s because of this we know we can do it backwards, too.
Typically, the general organic marketplace (which feeds mostly into the retail sector) won’t take anything smaller than a size 20cnt. Over the last several years we experienced a BIG ATUALFO heyday with lots of 12cnt and 14cnt from every region, all season long. This was a bit of a crop anomaly and also demonstrated the capacity for the marketplace having learned that consumers love Ataulfos; so, the marketplace is willing to invest and risk more in pushing them through their channels.
We think the consumer love for the Ataulfo can withstand the current season of small mangoes, we see it in all of our customers who have sized down from the get go and haven’t missed a beat sale wise.
Our organic Ataulfo program has grown extremely large and is very strong on quality. We have built up many customers from zero and expanded others by offering a really consistent program in terms of quality, flavor and size and delivering that trifecta day in and day out.
This season climate change and micro region droughts has made it impossible for us to get everyone the sizing they need. Despite the fact that we have continued to assume the fruit would grow bigger, it just hasn’t. It’s now safe to assume that it’s not going to.
We predict that yields from the remainder of the Chiapas and Oaxaca region will continue to be small, yielding mainly 18-20 cnts with a substantial amount of 22/24cnts as well, which means 12/14 and 16 cnts will be extremely limited.
But, this means we can take advantage of consumers’ love for the Ataulfo by making the prices for these small fruits even more lucrative. We have been doing countless deals on the small fruit and will continue. For those taking advantage of that, their sales are up and the product continues to move.
It’s too early to tell if the Nayarit region will yield similar sizing, but most of our boots on the ground predict this is rather likely, which means we are in the little Ataulfo boat together for what looks to be the entire season.
It seems a good time to take advantage of the lower price points of small fruit and promote and educate on this sweet little Mexican mango. We offer some great Ataulfo marketing tips in our Ataulfo Marketing 101 post I did a few years back on Under The Mango Tree. We have all kinds of Ataulfo educators for both virtual and in-store support. Let us figure out together how to achieve little Ataulfo success for you, just as we gave you big Ataulfo success. After all, we are the mango experts.