(Oct. 17) A smaller Brazilian mango deal and strong demand from Europe should keep U.S. prices high as Ecuador takes over the deal.

Freska Produce International LLC, Ventura, Calif., received its first shipment of mangoes from Ecuador Oct. 16, said Chuy Loza, managing member.

The company plans to steadily increase volumes until it hits peak volumes in November. Loza expects to receive about 30 containers a week from November through January, when Peru takes over the mango deal.

In mid-October, Loza reported strong markets for early shipments of tommy atkins.

“We haven’t seen prices this high for the past seven or eight years,” he said. “Brazil came in with a lot less volume this year.”

Loza quoted mid-October prices of $10-11. He predicted markets would stabilize by late October or early November as imports increased.

Freska supplied its West Coast customers with Mexican mangoes through September, about a month later than most importers, Loza said. For the first two weeks of October, bridging the gap from Mexico to Ecuador, Freska trucked Brazilian fruit in from the East Coast, he said.

In addition to the good quality, this year’s crop of Ecuadorian mangoes was sizing well, Loza said — not too small, but not too big.

“Ecuadorian mangoes peak at 10 or 12, which is ideal,” he said. “That’s what conventional retail likes.”

Amazon Produce Network, Cherry Hill, N.J., should begin receiving Ecuadorian mangoes the week of Nov. 6, when the company’s Brazilian deal is in its waning days, said Greg Golden, co-owner.

With the Brazilian deal winding down, mango markets were very strong in mid-October, Golden said.

“It’s unheard of,” he said. “The first year we’ve had ($8.50) f.o.b.s in years, even at the start of the deal, much less the peak. Demand has been unbelievable.”

Those soaring markets can be traced to two causes, Golden said: a smaller Brazilian crop; and, more important, intense demand for product from Europe, where domestic fall fruit crops have been short. Ecuadorians like to ship to Europe because of the strong euro and because, unlike with U.S. shipments, fruit doesn’t have to undergo hot-water treatments.

Golden said he expects mango markets to stay strong through at least the beginning of the Ecuadorian deal, with prices creeping down into the $6 range by late November, when demand decreases and Ecuadorian shipments increase.

“They’ll continue to be strong, but nowhere near where they are now,” he said. “Once we start getting 120-plus containers in per week, and cold weather sets in, the high prices won’t be sustainable.”