(Sept. 11) When the International Mango Organization formed in 2000 and conducted its first trade conference in the Coachella Valley of Southern California, 65 people attended.

This year, when the group meets for its second Global Mango Conference Oct. 17-18 at Velez-Malaga, Spain, a group twice that size is expected — about 10-15 from the U.S.

The event precedes the fifth annual Global Avocado Symposium in Malaga, which has helped registration for the mango conference.

“We’re dove-tailing into it (the avocado symposium), and we’re getting a good response,” said Will Cavan, executive director of the mango organization. “We’re sort of growing in momentum, reaching out to everyone worldwide from a production standpoint.”

Among the guests at the conference will be Israeli researcher Shmuel Gazit of Hebrew University; Victor Galan, president of the Spanish Society of Horticolas Sciences; and mango expert Richard Campbell of the Fairchild Tropical Gardens study center in Homestead, Fla.

Others invited to attend the conference are Agriculture Secretary Anne Veneman and Allen Johnson, the U.S. trade representative’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization, along with ministers of agriculture from India, Thailand, Pakistan and Colombia.

Topics include global production and markets.

“The theme of this conference is we want to get a grip on production worldwide,” Cavan said. “We need to identify who are the major players, what’s the production and projected production.”

The organization has formed alliances with TransfairUSA, which helped to set grade standards in the coffee industry and participated in global discussions on food safety with the Rome-based Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and Codex Alimentarius, the food and agricultural organization of the World Health Organization.

Codex Alimentarius meets every 18 months in Mexico and helps to set world standards for food safety.

“We’re in the process of becoming an approved observer status (with Codex Alimentarius),” Cavan said, “because they have input on issues that are important to exporters and importers.”

The group also puts a high priority on social issues in the industry.

“We’re challenging the industry to step up with standards to help workers,” he said. “We feel there’s a lot of benefit on the marketing and public relations side if you address this. A lot of people are trying to duck the issue, and I think this is a mistake.”

Cavan said the organization wants to challenge exporters to put a clinic on-site to give workers better care and provide better educational opportunities.