(Feb. 3, 2:40 p.m.) Guatemalan mango exporters are getting ready to
boost mango supplies to the U.S. from February through April. Despite
efforts to increase export volumes, importers aren't too optimistic
about this year's mango market.

Jim Burnette, mango category
manager at J&C Enterprises, Miami, said the mango market is down
mainly because of increased volumes and the recession.

"In a
normal year, we would be selling these mangoes for $9 or $10 because
volumes are so small. This year is different. Mangoes are selling
anywhere between $6.50 and $7 per box," Burnette said.

On
February 3, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of
$6.50-7.25 for one-layer flats of tommy atkins from Ecuador size 7-8,
$7.00-7.25 for size 9-10, $6.50-7 for size 12 and $5.50 for size 14.

"For
the coming weeks, prices should go up because the volumes are going to
drop more," Burnette said. "There is less fruit coming in," he said.

Burnette said that Ecuador's deal will end next week, and mangoes from Peru are supplying the market with lesser quantities.

Lately,
Peruvian mangoes are finding their way to European markets. According
to the Peruvian Association of Mango Producers, up until the end of
January, (the season ends in March) 60% of Peruvian mango exports
headed to Europe, while 22% went to the East Coast and 14% to the West
Coast of the U.S.

"The volumes are going to go down next week
for Peru and continue downwards through March," Burnette said. "Peru
will supply the market with tommy atkins sizes 7s and 8s," he said.

"One
of the reasons why mango volume (in the U.S.) is low is because mangoes
are worth more in Europe," Burnette said. "In Europe, they are selling
for the equivalent (in euros) to $8 U.S. Besides, they don't have to go
through hot water treatments in Europe like they do in the U.S.," he
said.

Despite the economic crisis, Guatemala is ramping up efforts to increase its annual mango share in the U.S. market each year.

"In
the past, they have been able to ship into the U.S. more volume than
they had originally intended to," said William Watson, executive
director of the National Mango Board, Orlando, Fla.

"Guatemalan
export volumes have increased anywhere between 3% and 8% over the last
three years," Watson said. "Their production is growing, too. They have
more mature trees than in the past," he said.

Eddie Caram,
director of operations for New Limeco LLC, Princeton, Fla., is planning
to import about 250,000 cases of tommy atkins mangoes from Guatemala,
sizes 7s through 12s.

Caram said volume from Guatemala is similar to last year's and the weather has been favorable.

"If the climate and weather keep up, we think we will have spectacular fruit," Caram said.

New Limeco also sources its mangoes from Mexico, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.

Caram
said the company will start sourcing Guatemalan mangoes in March
through the first week of May, at which time the company will import
from Mexico.

Watson said the Guatemalan mango deal usually starts in late February and runs through April.

Nearly
15,000 acres are allotted for mango production in Guatemala, and for
2009, growers expect an increase of 300,000 boxes in mango exports to
the U.S. This represents a 7.5% increase in volume compared with last
year's, according to information provided by Agexport, the Guatemalan
Exporter's Association.