Organic mango category inches upward at retail
An estimated 10% of mangoes are organically grown, but many U.S. importers say the category so far does not make up a large part of their volume.
Vision Import Group, Hackensack, N.J., “dabbles” in organic mangoes, said Ronnie Cohen, partner/principal.
The company had a small organic program out of Ecuador and tries to import organic mangoes on demand.
“There’s definitely more demand for organics,” Cohen said, adding that “organic” has become a buzzword.
“That’s what everybody’s looking for.”
Central American Produce, Pompano Beach, Fla., imports “a few” organic mangoes, said Michael Warren, owner/president.
He estimated that organic mango sales are holding steady or possibly increasing a bit.
Even conventional mangoes actually are practically organically grown, since they have so few inputs, he said.
RCF Distributors, Nogales, Ariz., which markets the Crespo Organic brand, has mangoes from Mexico from January through September, said Nissa Pierson, who is charge of the company’s organic mango program.
RCF Distributors handles eight varieties — tommy atkins, ataulfo, kent, haden, keitt, Thai, manila and baby mangoes.
Baby mangoes are “basically very, very small ataulfos,” she said.
Pierson, who has worked with mangoes for 15 years, said there’s an advantage to buying mangoes from Mexico, since they can be shipped to the U.S. on trucks rather than on ships.
“The price of freight is significantly lower, which allows for there to be more room in the market prices,” she said.
RCF Distributors, which also has packinghouses in Chiapas and Sinaloa, Mexico, is one of the largest mango distributors and is one of the few that deal directly with buyers rather than sell through brokers, she said.
Not every mango supplier is a fan of organic fruit.
“It’s not something we’re doing,” said Chris Ciruli, partner at Rio Rico, Ariz.-based Ciruli Bros. LLC.
The company has tried shipping organic mangoes a couple of times, but those deals did not pan out as well as conventional deals from a volume or quality angle, he said.
“As the total market goes up, you’ll see organic go up, but (the organic deal) has not been a driver for us,” Ciruli said.
Cohen of Vision Import Group said there are two groups of consumers who like organic mangoes.
One is a segment of shoppers who want to buy organic produce because they believe they are eating more healthfully, and who don’t mind paying more for it.
The second is the younger generation — millennials and younger — who tend to patronize places that provide organic food.
The mango category is “definitely more inclusive of every sector,” said Pierson of RCF Distributors, including millennials, families and consumers who have a penchant for good health.
“Millennials are driving organic growth as a whole,” she said, “but in terms of mangoes, it’s pretty consistent in most sectors and demographics.”
Organic growth continues, but at a slower pace