Mango shippers across the U.S. note the growth potential of the fresh-cut segment; recent statistics indicate that growth is taking place.

Dollar sales of value-added mangoes increased 10.3% during the 52 weeks ending Jan. 28, compared to the previous 52-week period, according to data compiled at 13,000 retail stores by the Nielsen Perishables Group.

That was slightly behind the growth rate of whole mangoes, which increased 15.2% during the same period, according to the study, which did not take into account sales at Walmart, club stores, small-scale independent chains and alternative-format retailers, such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

Irwindale, Calif.-based Ready Pac Foods says it believes in fresh-cut’s potential so much that it devotes its entire mango program to the category.

The reason is simple, said Tristan Simpson, spokeswoman for Ready Pac.

“Mango is a type of fruit where value-added truly adds value,” she said. “We take the guesswork out of picking and preparing (mangoes) for consumers.”

She said Ready Pac was among the first produce companies to add mangoes to its fresh fruit portfolio after having discovered a “need gap” in value-added specialty fruit that mangoes easily filled.

“Mango is the most popular specialty fruit, accounting for 40.4% of total specialty fruit sales,” Simpson said, quoting the Perishables Group data.

As a specialty fruit, demographics are central to the company’s marketing efforts behind the product, Simpson noted.

“Ethnicity is the single most important demographic that impacts the likelihood of mango purchase,” Simpson said.

She quoted figures from the Orlando, Fla.-based National Mango Board that reported only about 4% of the white, non-Hispanic population in the U.S. is likely to buy mangoes. Asian consumers were the most likely ethnic group to buy mangoes, according to the board.

Retail is the primary venue for fresh-cut mangoes, but the foodservice segment has potential for the category, Simpson said.

“As foodservice continues to add fresh-cut fruit in many shapes and forms to the menu, Ready Pac is collaborating with operators to develop recipes which include mango,” Simpson said.

Packaging stresses product visibility, Simpson said.

“Ready Pac believes the appearance of the fruit needs to be prominent; in other words, let the fruit speak for itself,” she said, adding that the company uses recyclable polyethylene terephthalate packaging materials that enhance product visibility.

The company offers its mangoes as a straight stock-keeping unit or as part of a seasonal combination, Simpson said, adding that there are options in party platters and snack packages.

Ready Pac markets its fresh-cut mango program with an array of point-of-sale materials, including shelf tags, Simpson said.

Potential growth is encouraging, having increased 13.8% year-on-year through October, Simpson said, citing more Perishables Group data.

“It’s the fastest-growing specialty-type fruit,” she said.

Other shippers agreed, including Tony Godinez, a member of the mango board and president of Godinez International LLC of Hidalgo, Texas.

“It’s an emerging market, and we (board members) are also contributing to that by working on research required for proper maturities, for cutting, for maximizing yields and having the best quality of fruit in the chain.”

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based mango shipper Central American Produce says its sales to fresh-cut processors have grown 30% in the past five years.

“I think it’s getting well known now and people are buying it,” said Sabine Henry, a saleswoman with the company. “It’s a good way to introduce people to mangoes.”