Abnormally low mango production sends prices at U.S. markets skyrocketing
Historically low imports tied primarily to regional weather conditions has led to a shortage of mangos in the United States and a corresponding increase in prices, according to The Packer and other trade magazines.
Under normal conditions, the season in Peru, which accounts for about 10 percent of U.S. imports, is winding down this time of year and Mexico, which accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. imports, begins picking up the slack.
This year, however, the Peruvian season ended early and weather conditions in Southern Mexico where much of the crop originates, have delayed the flowering of mango trees and subsequent maturing and harvest. The factors have led to what is being described as an unusually low supply volume for late spring.
Sabine Henry, mango manager of Central American Produce in Pompano Beach, Fla., said demand currently exceeds supply because of the El Niño weather anomaly, and she expects the trend to continue through April.
“Compared to last year, we notice a drop of 20% for this time of the year,” Henry told The Packer. “Prices are in double digits, which is totally unusual for that time of the year.”
Larry Nienkerk, sales consultant for Splendid by Porvenir, Burlingame, Calif., confirmed that production is “way off” from this time last year. “I’ve never seen the market so short,” Nienkirk said. “Fruit is not maturing and needs more time on the trees. There should be fruit that is ready to harvest at this time of year that just isn’t available.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, mango availability in the United States increased from 1.88 to 2.59 pounds per person between 2005 and 2013. Overall import volume of mangoes has grown from 62 million boxes in 2005 to about 93 million boxes in 2015.
Besides Peru and Mexico, the primary source of mangos for the U.S. market include Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Brazil, and a handful of domestic locales such as Puerto Rico, South Florida, California and Hawaii.
Typically, Peru’s mango season begins in November and ends in March. Last year, it exported 9.3 million boxes to the United States — an 18 percent increase over the previous year. The Mexican season normally kicks in during February and winds down in October. The Guatemalan and Nicaraguan seasons follow a pattern similar to Mexico, but taper off earlier in the summer.
Exports from Mexico are on track to total about 4.8 million boxes this year, down from 6 million boxes last year. Most of the harvest is exported to Europe — primarily Spain, the Netherlands and France — with the remainder going to the domestic and U.S. markets. Nicaragua is expected to produce 1.2 million boxes this season.
Panama, an emerging player in the mango business, is benefitting from the El Niño-related shortages from Mexico. Normally, the droughts associated with El Niño would create problems for the signature Lady Victoria mango produced in Panama, but the dry spell this year has meant that the fungi which normally impacts the crop hasn’t developed as easily and irrigation is possible to mitigate the impact of the drought.
Panama currently produces about 60,000 tons of mangos annually, much of which is dedicated to the small domestic market and the rest of which goes to the United States.