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Farm, Featured, News

Glimmering Mango Landscapes

February 23, 2024

Ataulfo price drop, Chiapas comes alive, EDJ2 opens, , more round fruit,
blooming northern landscapes and opulent specialty mango flowers

Weekends are sacred in our business. In contrast to Australians who may soon have the privilege of declining unreasonable calls and avoiding responses to calls or emails from their bosses outside “normal business hours,” most of us  produce folks contend with a fair share of unreasonable demands seven days a week. We not only answer our phone calls from our bosses but also find ourselves in constant problem solving mode. Despite these constant demands, there is a certain peace to the weekend—the phone doesn’t ring as frequently, and the atmosphere tends to be quieter. This is why I take pleasure in dropping positive news Under the Mango Tree on Fridays. It is part of my quest to create more #MangoJoy in our lives, from orchard to table. I am going to make this short and sweet for us so we can get to the weekend sooner!

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Farm, Featured, News

Mexican (Organic) Mango Crop Update

February 2, 2024

Amidst adversity, signs of hope blossom

One grower described this season to me like this “completely impossible to predict much of anything in the orchards.” Most agree that predictions of any kind are not easy to make, particularly this season, as has been demonstrated in the chaos of contracts and commitments.

As more of us engage in processing larger quantities of Mexican mangoes, additional information is gathered. That information is useful. At present, the best I can offer is sharing my most up-to-date intel from the orchards.

Despite the challenges, there is more of the same (bad) news plus a glimmer of hope in the form of brilliant, beautiful mango blossoms.

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Farm, Featured, News

Organic Ataulfos {Slowly Kind Of} Start Now

January 16, 2024

Mexican mango season starts slowly amidst an empty pipeline…..

I’m back from a beach break in Puerto Rico, a much needed respite before another Mexican mango season begins. This break proved to be a wise decision, considering the anticipated complexity of the looming mango season, perhaps even more complex than usual and mostly just at the onset.

In my last crop report, “A Christmas Mango Teaser,” my message was a mix of positive news alongside Roberto’s warning about the strong winds prevailing at that time. Many expected wind damage resulting in some gaps, prompting us to wait before assessing the situation.

Unfortunately, the wind did cause damage by dislodging blooms and even some set fruit, creating numerous small gaps from orchard to orchard. This will impact volumes at the onset and during the initial weeks of the season. Essentially, supplies will be limited for most of February but are expected to increase and stabilize as we progress into March.

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Farm, Featured, Kitchen, News

A Christmas Mango Teaser

December 20, 2023

Generally jolly good orchard news,  a sprinkle of bah humbug
& my best holiday mango recipes

 Roberto Crespo, a member of the #HermanosCrespos “band” or what I consider the lead singer of our south, is currently and like usual, deeply rooted in the soils of Oaxaca and Chiapas preparing for the season start up.  This week he is sharing some encouraging updates direct from our Mexican mango orchards down there, which feels like the best Christmas news ever! He sprinkles a little bah humbug on our festive mood, reporting of some serious wind currently swirling the orchards, noting it could be concerning for fruit supply farther into the season. I will report back with my usual New Year/ New Season Mexican Mango Predictions next week with more details from Roberto.  Consider this just a little teaser of Christmas hope before we all break for the holiday. Today, I want mostly to sprinkle a bit of #MangoJoy on us for the Mexican mango season ahead with the scarcity of positive offshore organic mango news, I thought some flashes of good news would be a nice change.

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Farm, Featured, News

In case You Missed It

September 15, 2023

Terrible Ecuadoran & Peruvian mango volume predictions

The Mexican organic mango season is officially closed at orchard level, and while that’s certainly noteworthy, there’s another pressing issue that demands our attention: the forecasts for Ecuadorian and Peruvian mango production volumes, both organic and conventional, are extremely grim. In fact, they are expected to be significantly worse than just bad—reaching catastrophic levels in the case of organic mangoes.

I’m going to try to succinctly piece together the facts, while reminding you of the finicky nature of mango blooms. It’s important to note that not even chemical bloom agents (which aren’t employed in organic production) are powerless against nature’s whims, such as El Niño or climate change.

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Farm, Featured, News

Happy Endings, Potent Partnerships

August 25, 2023

Big & sweet Keitts signal the end, our Mochis family makes it “easy” for us!

Los Mochis Keitt mangoes, the late season final varietal of Mexico’s mango season is now officially in full swing, marking these next few weeks the bittersweet conclusion of our sweet, sweet mango season. There is no need to dwell on the end just yet, we still have ample time to enjoy the sweet offerings of this GIGANTIC mango and thanks to our potent partnership with Empaque Macapul & Empaque Don Juan, we’re able to navigate this final stretch with the same power and prowess that defines the Crespo Organic brand all season long.

Mexico’s organic mango season typically finishes around the end of September, while the conventional sector (subject to weather conditions) can extend sometimes even into early October. As I often point out, organic and conventional mango details are often (and wrongly) lumped together under the broad “mango category” label, this simplification doesn’t hold true generally and as we approach the season’s “grand” finale we need to get specific when it comes to organic. This last region has been and still is ultra-complex for the organic sector maneuvering through the last week’s requires a lot of cooperation, communication and a “getting shit done” attitude as many of our customers/retailers have had during this regional period when they have to get the 6/7cnt SKUS approved and in the system in order to have the lengthiest season possible. On the organic side we all want to end on a sweet note, especially because there is no other (large scale) fruit (CA is small scale) directly following Mexico for organic (there is no Brazilian production into the USA) .

Keitt varietals from Mochis consistently yield significantly larger fruit sizes than other varietals and regions. Simultaneously, the price gap widens due to the increased size and the limited organic production that characterizes Mochis. At this stage, the mathematics of fruit pricing become critical, with fruit sizes averaging in the 4/5/6 count range. Over the past several seasons, we’ve diligently worked and succeeded to maintain robust organic displays at the retail level with Keitts  and even with the challenge of larger fruit sizes and subsequently higher price points. However, this isn’t always straightforward and feasible everywhere. We, along with our customers/retailers are actively working changing this challenging price perception. As more retailers, consumers, and the industry at large recognize the added value of organics, our strides become even greater.

It’s a slow but steady process, requiring yearly increases in production, leveraging of sizes, heightened demand and excitement, and a commitment to not partake in the end-of-season price gouging that many adopt. For the organic sector, this is the most challenging region. In my many years of doing this, I consider this year a significant threshold. I see more retailers extending the season than ever before, more adopting larger SKUs, and an overall improvement in the quality of production from the orchard side of the equation. I feel more positive about the organic Mochis program than I ever have.

This Mochis Keitt Crop
The Los Mochis zone typically receives more rain than the other regions and “mango” rains typically come in the later part of the mango season, this is when the Keitt mango comes into play and thrives. When the Keitt varietal gets the abundant rain and it’s coupled with the intense end-of-summer heat, the result is GIGANTIC mangoes – aka Mochis Keitts. (Keitt Kong by the way was a very clever idea by Splendid!)

This season, like most, we find ourselves a bit perplexed about exactly what will happen next in terms of size and quality. What we do know is that a significant amount of rain fell in a short time (attributed to Hurricane Hillary) amidst some of the most intense heat the region has seen in a while. We anticipate the mangoes getting bigger, faster with this growth-inducing cocktail. Generally speaking, everyone seems to have a ‘so far so good’ attitude about the crop.

Excessive rains are a funny thing; rain is always welcome and beneficial, especially right around harvest time. But an excess, too much too fast, particularly during a drought or extremely dry conditions (which we have seen in Mochis), can lead to complications in quality later down the road. There is some trepidation currently (there always is 😊) as we watch to see what actually happens. We are all on watch and yet just moving forward as normal. My personal anxiety has been somewhat alleviated as I spoke to various sources regarding the actual conditions in the area.

Most everyone agrees that the ground was parched enough, and the soil healthy enough (YES!) that the heavy rains that came rapidly were absorbed quickly and efficiently, only benefiting the growth and health of the mangoes and deterring what one source described as a lingering ‘steam bath’ effect, which is when the ground gets too saturated and when combined with intense heat creates a thick, humid layer that bubbles the orchards. A layer that’s way too humid and tropical for commercial mango production.

Everyone agrees that the most important thing to watch for is more excessive rain. But for now, things are good. Quality of fruit landing has been exceptional; flavor has been incredibly sweet and complex thanks to the heat. At this stage in the crop, we anticipate the season pushing forward on a positive note and lasting until the third week of September give or take some days.

Speaking of positives, our partners in the area have reported a few pockets of  micro-orchards that are still yielding some smaller fruit. So, for the time being, there is still a hint of size diversity. I’ll be back next week with another update to see how size and quality pan out.

What & Where is Mochis?
The Los Mochis area, located approximately 200-250 miles north of our hometown of Rosario and Empaque Don Jorge, has been designated as a fruit fly-free zone by APHIS. This designation means that no treatments are required for the importation of fruits and vegetables into the USA, and for organic mangoes, this means no hot water treatments.

“Los Mochis” as we refer to it, also known as Sinaloa de Leyva, is situated about an hour’s drive inland from the city of Los Mochis, a coastal town on the Sea of Cortez in the northern part of the state of Sinaloa. This area has experienced significant agricultural growth in recent years, transitioning from primarily sugar production to the cultivation of various agricultural products, including a substantial increase in mango production. While most of this mango production is conventional, a handful of farmers are involved in organic mango farming and luckily they are part of our mango family!

The Mochis Associates
El Grupo Crespo has a very large infrastructure network throughout most mango regions in Mexico. The Crespo family has been building this infrastructure and expanding since their onset in agriculture in 1960.  (No doubt, you’ve perused numerous of my “ Pulitzer Prize-worthy” articles on the topic.) The Mochis region, however,  is the one exception. In this region, during end of the  Mexican season we rely solely on two carefully selected, strong organic partnerships that have been being built and forged the same way the Crespo family has built the rest; hard work, lots of sweat, openness, cooperation and the sharing of information, ideas and profits; all of which essentially places emphasis back on the growing communities and people, making sure they can be sustainable and profitable for generations to come while simultaneously increasing sales and consumer satisfaction in the US and Canadian markets.

Both of these grower/packer operations offer ample state-of-the-art cooling systems, as well as the most advanced machinery for washing, polishing, and packing. The cooling systems are invaluable for maintaining our quality in a region that experiences incredibly high temperatures during a specific time period. Not only do they supply us with 100% of their organic fruit volumes, but they are also capable of packing all of our various pack sizes, including our popular Net-Bags and A Case for Consumer programs, right up until the end of the season – which is no small feat with large mangoes! It’s not just the Keitt mangoes at the end of the season; they also provide us with one last sweet dose of Ataulfos in late July. Our Ataulfo program is one of our longest, largest, and most popular mango programs, making this final delivery incredibly important in the big picture and consumer #MangoJoy. Additionally, some of our specialty mangoes are also available from this region, extending the season and proving to be incredibly valuable for future varietal growth.

Empaque Macapul
El Grupo Crespo and the Crespo family has been collaborating with Empaque Macapul for over 15 years with mangoes as well as other commodities. They are both growers and packers, and one of only a handful of certified organic packinghouses in the region. In addition to the services they offer with mangoes, they offer packing services for other fruits and vegetables grown in the region.

With over 50 hectares of mango production, they supply the Crespo Organic brand with Ataulfo, Kent, Keitt as well as some of our opulently tagged Mallika & Nam Doc Mai specialty mangoes . The packing capacity of Macapul is about 4 truckloads per day.

You can see the entire mango packing process at Empaque Macapul on their Facebook Page.

Empaque Don Juan
Don Juan started as mango growers and evolved into what they are today a very large and powerful grower/packer. They  packed their product at Macapul for the first years and then eventually built their own packing facility three years ago, which offers packing services to many. Production wise they have over 300 hectares of production. The facilities are basically new and modern and clean and spacious with substantial cooling  space.

Don Juan currently does not have a website or social media presence (we will try and help change that!) so for now we can offer a little slider of photos (below)  so you can see the impressive place yourself!

How & When It Ends?
That is the big question for us always on the organic side. We typically end the season as soon as any quality defects appear due to weather issues. We will keep our eyes on the weather closely and try and choose the sweetest spot to end. Volatile endings after all are much more difficult than amical ones after all!

Read more about the Keitt mango HERE


Farm, Featured, News

Rosario Keitt Mangoes

August 4, 2023

Blush filled end of season crop expectations for Sinaloa (Rosario & Mochis)

 This time of year is bitter-sweet for many of us immersed in the abundance of Mexican-produced mangoes. We find ourselves at the beginning of the end, as the Ataulfo mangoes have now finished, and the southern region’s Sinaloa Kents are being picked in their final batches.

Throughout the last 7 months of the season, we have withstood the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows, as all six mango-producing regions delivered their best. If you’ve been part of the Crespo program, you’ve had the opportunity to experience and savor over 7 different varietals so far, including the new Crespo Organic Specialty Mangoes. It’s been quite a journey, and we all feel a bit weary and maybe even a little burnt out, which is understandable considering we’ve been on a wild, and ideally sweet, ride up until this point.

And then, suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, enters everybody’s favorite mango – the Keitt mango – rejuvenating and exciting us all! The Keitt mango holds a special place, distinct from the other varietals produced in all regions, as it is predominantly grown in the Sinaloa region and signals the end of the long Mexican mango season.

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Farm, Uncategorized

RCF ( Mango King & Crespo Organic) Mallika Mangoes

June 2, 2023

An Indian Varietal Grown In Mexico

Thanks to Jorge Crespo (The Crespo Mango Man and his passion for all things new,  including new growing challenges, as well as his  desire to  expand the family’s expertise  always being forward thinking (Jorge is much like his father Roberto Crespo Fitch), RCF Distributors has several new specialty varietals that are being introduced in seasons ahead. The Mallika mango is Jorge’s second specialty varietal, after the Keiw Savoy ( Thai Sweet Green Mango). The Mallika is a special mango that has caught the attention of mango loves with its sweeter, more nuanced tropical exotic flavor.

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Farm, Featured, News

“Little” Fruit Brings Opportunity

May 31, 2023

Crespo mango expertise bridges transition into Summer Mango Mania

 I’ve been selling organic mangoes for a long time and, as so many of us forget, the greatest season-long program success happens when you nail the transitions. It’s the performance during the transition that dictates what stores have fruit and at what price. Just like in music, those connecting notes, the transitions is what leads you to the next phase of the whole. We take the transitions seriously, we get creative and we utilize the partnerships we forget with customers, making it work. Clear communication, more than anything is pivotal for any transitional success, in particular when there are volume supply or quality issues at play. The direct relationships to customers and the nimble work we do together, with the trust of the consumers who fuel our program, make the transitions easier to maneuver through so we can build and grow successful organic Mexican mango programs…. This is what we are known for.

The Crespo’s fully and vertically integrated supply chain and direct-trade selling system is what makes them the mango experts. It’s because of that expertise we will not skip a beat in the final days of the great mango transition, which is when a regional production shift from southern Oaxaca & Chiapas to Northern Nayarit and Sinaloa happens.

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Farm, Featured, News

The BIG Transition North

May 3, 2023

Will Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Nayarit line up for a smooth transition?

The nature of transition is tricky. Shifting mango production from the southern Mexican regions to the northern ones is often unpredictable and complex. This year we move into with a great deal of positivity and yet a tinge of trepidation. I think the trepidation is more implanted into all of us because of the last several months or utter unpredictability that resulted in many challenges for the industry.

Transitioning mango production from southern to northern regions in Mexico is often a tricky and complex process. As we embark on this year’s transition, we are filled with positivity, yet there is also a sense of trepidation. The challenges of the past few months have left their mark on the industry, and we all carry a certain level of uncertainty with us.

Last year the transition was brutal, as I reported here- Under The Mango Tree.  We managed but it wasn’t easy or pretty. This year we get a break.

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