(Nov. 29) The National Mango Board has selected Fleishman-Hillard International Communications as its consumer public relations firm and Vanguard Marketing Strategies LLC to direct its retail merchandising efforts, according to a late-November news release from the board.

Fleishman-Hillard is based in St. Louis, and Vanguard is based in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The two firms will launch mango promotion efforts over the next year, according to Chuck Ciruli Sr., chairman of the National Mango board and chairman of Nogales-based companies Ciruli Bros. Inc. and Amex Distributing Co. Inc.

Earlier, at a mango industry meeting Nov. 6 in Atlanta in conjunction with the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit, Ciruli said the board would spend about 52% of its funds on promotion, 22% on research and 26% on education.

The board has been collecting assessments since the beginning of the year, and 2006 will be the board’s first year of full-fledged promotion efforts.

William Watson, Orlando, Fla.-based interim director of the board, said Nov. 29 that consumer promotions would be kicked off as quickly as possible — perhaps as early as the first quarter of 2006.

Watson said research has shown that a significant portion of consumers aren’t familiar with mangoes.

“We tend to think they will like (mangoes) if they get a good one,” he said.

EXPERIENCE COUNTS

Watson said the mango board appreciated the experience of working with retailers that Vanguard offered.

“They have pitched programs to retailers, and that’s important,” he said.

Meanwhile, Watson said the board appreciated Fleishman-Hillard’s experience of providing successful stories for commodity boards.

In other news, the mango board received information on the nutrient values of the fruit at its meeting in November. A literature review by Penelope Perkins-Veazie, a U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher from Lane, Okla., revealed that a one-cup serving of mango supplies 25% of the recommended daily value of vitamin A and 76% of the daily recommendation of vitamin C.

The National Mango Board is a national promotion, research and information organization, the news release noted.

Federal rule making for the mango board began in 2002, and a referendum of importers and first handlers on the board and on mandatory assessments passed last year.

The 18-member board, appointed by the secretary of agriculture, consists of two domestic producers, one handler, eight importers and seven foreign producers — five members from Mexico, one from Peru and one from Ecuador — the release said.