(Oct. 7) The ch-ching of a mandatory half-cent per pound assessment to build U.S. mango demand will be heard for the first time on Jan. 3.

Though a full-blown generic marketing plan may not be carried out until 2006, assessments for mango promotions — estimated to garner $2.5 million the first year — will begin to fill the coffers of the new Mango Promotion, Research and Information Order.

The assessments begin three months after the Oct. 4 final rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that established the groundbreaking order.

The rule put in place the final piece of the puzzle that was more than four years in the solving.

The new mango order will serve as the springboard for generic promotions for the mango industry, in addition to research and information services it will provide the industry.

Most importers believe the order will help build demand, stabilize prices and increase per capita consumption.

“We are very excited about it,” said Chris Ciruli, salesman for Ciruli Bros., Nogales, Ariz. “It’s very gratifying after all these years.”

Ciruli speculated the board, when put in place, primarily will work on getting organized in 2005.

USDA officials have told Ciruli that assessments for promotion orders are collected in arrears, so that funds collected in the current year are used during the following year.

Despite legal attacks on promotion boards, Stephen Kaczor, director of marketing for Splendid Products LLC, Burlingame, Calif., pleased the USDA acted to establish the order.

Kaczor said the promotion board’s work, combined with U.S. market development efforts by Mexican mango exporters and the Mexican Department of Agriculture this year, point to an early impact from promotions.

Ciruli said Mexican mango exporters and the Mexican Department of Agriculture invested about $1.9 million in U.S. market promotion.

With no strong U.S. grower base, the mango promotion order was primarily driven by mango importers.

The USDA estimates the mango order will collect $2.5 million its first year based on a half-cent per pound assessment on domestic and importer mangoes. Firms that handle less than 500,000 pounds of fruit annually will be exempted.

In fact, imported mangoes will account for about 92% of the assessments. Importers will pay the assessment when they bring fruit into the U.S. market.

Domestic production is extremely limited.

“Florida hasn’t been an effective shipper of mangoes since the hurricane of 1992, and I sold my last my mango orchard in 2000,” said Pal Brooks, owners of Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla.

Assessments on domestic mangoes will be paid no later than the 15th day of the month after the month in which the mangoes were marketed, the USDA said.

How that money will be spent will be the job of the National Mango Board, which will administer the program.

In an Oct. 1 news release, the USDA said the National Mango Board will be made up of 20 members nominated by the industry and appointed by the agriculture secretary.

The order is officially effective as of Nov. 3, one month after the publication of the final rule. First handlers and importers of mangoes will be sent information on the nomination process by Nov. 10, the USDA said. Two nominations will be required for each seat on the board.

The board will be comprised of eight U.S. importers, one U.S. first handler, two U.S. producers, seven foreign producers and two nonvoting U.S. wholesalers and/or retailers of mangoes.

The chairman of the board must reside in the U.S., according to the final rule, and board members serve three-year terms.

The USDA did not say when Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman will appoint the mango board, but the final rule says the terms of offices begin on Jan. 1.

The USDA will conduct a referendum every five years on whether first handlers and importers of mango favor the continuation of the order.