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{Organic} Transition North

May 10, 2024

Positive direction forward, propelled by consumers

When times are tough, as they have been for the mango industry it’s important to keep perspective, something I can be both good and bad at as stress can get the best of me, just like it does all of us. But perspective is important and there is no better place to find produce perspective than through those that have boots on the ground. My latest crop report is speckled with a lot of positivity and a reminder that even when times are tough its possible to create a chain of success throughout the entire chain….from orchard to table. I’m not denying its been hard, I’m simply acknowledging that by working together we create a thriving mango environment that moves forward, despite the setbacks!

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Four Seasons Fresh Fest for the second year in a row. This even is truly an amazing experience. I don’t often work a booth, Id always rather work a tasting and cutting demo at retail, but this even is the one that gets me off my busy butt and on a plane into the middle of Pennsylvania. I do it because it puts me in touch with the fruits of all of our labor and this year I needed that more than most.

Meeting with a multitude of small, medium and large retailers and produce managers along with the sales people that engage with these folks daily gets me to the heart of the selling side and a closer perspective of the shopper, who essentially rules all. I get the opportunity to understand various problems from different perspectives, sow seeds for solutions, and foster human connections. It’s a reminder that our interactions are about more than just transactions.

During the same eventful weekend, we had the pleasure of directly connecting with consumers at one of our Mango Tastings & Cutting Demos during the grand opening of a new Nature’s Food Markets store in New Jersey, alongside Four Seasons. This opportunity not only deepened our insights, spread more #MangoJoy more directly from farm to table, educated more mango shoppers and as one person put it, ” sold a sh*it ton of mangoes!”

Despite the persistent challenges faced this mango season, which I have continuously reported on, I made a remarkable discovery during my excursion east. Despite the difficulties, customers and consumers continue to experience significant #mangojoy, driving consistent and profitable sales of #muchosmangoes, and remaining relatively joyous and excited about mangoes despite the higher market prices we’re all grappling with.

My latest crop report is set against the backdrop of this – it’s viewed through new mango blush-colored lens. In essence, I see a lot more positivity, and I’m certain that all of us who have been toiling behind the scenes, especially Jose Angel Crespo, who bears the most stress of any of us, can appreciate this newfound perspective.

Bottom line the season is tough, and it is expected on the organic side to remain tough for several more weeks before we feel some respite when production transitions to the more voluminous production zones in the north, where our main packhouse Empaque Don Jorge- Latin Americas largest hydrothermic mango packhouse, eagerly awaits packing more fruit.

Here is what to expect in the weeks to come.

Northern Transition (Timing and General Expectations)
Climate change stands out as the primary driver of unpredictability in our industry. This season has been fraught with challenges across every stage of production, from blooming to fruit set, yields, timing, and sizing. These factors have led to the sort of unpredictability that breeds chaos, all against the backdrop of unprecedented retailer demand. That part is not expected to go away and currently nor is the serious drought has exacerbated all of these issues and resulted in small size crops which have been challenging to the industry.

There is indeed a positive aspect to consider as we move north, particularly in the northern regions like Nayarit and Sinaloa. These areas are better equipped to swiftly respond to challenges due to their extensive experience in servicing large volume demands. Unlike the south, where higher volume demands have only arisen in the last several years, the northern regions have been accustomed to such demands for a longer period. They are built for it.

The Northern regions of Nayarit and Sinaloa enjoy several logistical advantages. Firstly, they are closer to the border by several days, reducing transportation time and costs. Additionally, they lie in more reliable transportation lanes, facilitating smoother movement of goods. Furthermore, packhouses in these regions are generally larger compared to those in the south, although this is gradually changing over time. Larger packhouses enable more supporting orchards and accommodate larger production volumes, as well as a greater variety of mango varietals. This proximity to transportation routes and larger infrastructure makes replenishment easier and overall operations more efficient.

This transition north as I’ve come to call it is currently in motion and despite a few orchard anomies in our favor the next few weeks will be tough, and then it will be better and maybe even really great!

The transition north is expected to be complete by the end of May. This positions us perfectly to kick off the big summer promotion we’ve all been eagerly awaiting: Crespo Organic Summer Mango Mania #MuchosMangoes. Yes, it’s a mouthful, but it promises serious #MangoJoy and boosts mango sales!

This is one of those instances (it’s not always) that we have to separate organic  and conventional production. The transition presents a much more complex challenge for the organic side. While other sources currently support overall volume on the market for conventional production, there’s no such fallback for organics. Market volumes rely entirely on southern Mexico, making it a critical point of focus. Typically during the transition there are major shortages, timing often not aligning well, especially if Oaxaca’s season ends early and Nayarit starts late. However, this year, the extended Oaxacan season miraculously gives us the break we needed!

Ataulfos Up Close
Ataulfos in the south are nearing the end of their season, while Nayarit production has already commenced. Currently, we are packing organic Ataulfos from the Nayarit region at Empaque Don Jorge in Sinaloa, ,and we’re also still packing some Oaxacan and Chiapas fruit  in Bola de Oro and Magmar. The significant and ongoing drought continues to keep the majority of the fruit small. However, we’ve managed to keep our large fruit customers satisfied with just enough supply.  This should continue.

Southern fruit currently is boasting incredible sweetness as it reaches the end of its season. It’s the most mature fruit, offering the best eating experience but also noteworthy in this sweetness is a quicker ripening phase.

On the other hand, Nayarit fruit is from the brand-new crop, freshly picked from the first bloom/fruit set. It’s at the beginning of its season, with excellent BRIX levels and yileding a longer ripening phase as early fruit naturally does.

An important key point to note is that current inventories may have mixed ripeness, and rotations need to be scrutinized more closely at wholesale and retail levels due to the two different ripening variances.


Round Fruit Advancements
This season, Oaxaca, despite facing early fruit yield challenges, is extending its normal season (the reasons for which are not entirely clear to me) and will continue offering fruit through the end of May. While volumes from Oaxaca have diminished, the fruit from this region, combined with Chiapas fruit, will bridge the gap until Nayarit’s season begins. The fruit is still on the smaller side, with average counts of 9-10-12, but once again, we’re managing to offer just enough large fruit. I understand that the concept of “just enough” can be subjective, but I trust you catch my drift!

The southern trucking situation, which has been a significant problem for weeks, has somewhat improved as most conventional packhouses in the south are now closed, freeing up more trucks. Hopefully, the numerous roadblocks will also subside, allowing fruit to reach the border with greater precision and timing.

In essence, transitions are inherently challenging, but together, we will navigate through and make it work.

Nayarit & June “Bloom” with Promotions

On the other side of the transition lies more volume, a greater variety (including Crespo Organic Mango Queen Specialty Mangoes!), and overall more #MangoJoy for all of us. We’re anticipating hitting our target for Summer Mango Mania, with dates firmly locked in from June 15th to July 31st, and some promotions even kicking off as early as the first week of June!

The greatest lesson learned from Fresh Fest is that despite the challenges, it’s been a positive and prosperous season thus far. We expect this trend to continue, along with the inevitable challenges that come with life.

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