Mango shipments started slowly in Peru but are picking up in other production areas as the spring shipping season unfolds, according to marketing agents.

In Peru’s Motupe and Olmos regions, volumes were estimated at about one-third less than last year due to an abundance of rain, said Greg Golden, partner in Mullica Hill, N.J.-based Amazon Produce Network.

Guatemala and Mexico

But things were picking up as production shifted to Guatemala, Golden said.

“The crop there looks like it might be slightly larger this year,” Golden said, adding that growing conditions there were fine.

The result, he said, is that Amazon anticipates around 2 million boxes of mangoes from Guatemala this year, compared to 1.5 million a year ago.

The Mexican crop was tougher to predict, Golden noted.

“It may be delayed, with the volume spread out for a longer period of time in certain areas,” he said.

But that can be a blessing, too, Golden noted.

“It’s good to not have a real pronounced peak,” he said.

Higher market prices

As of March 13, one-layer flats of Kent mangoes from Brazil, Ecuador and Peru were $6-6.50 for sizes 7-12 and $6 for 14s, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Tommy atkins from Mexico were $5.50-6.50 in sizes 7-10 and $5.50-6 in 12s. Ataulfos from Mexico were $5-7 for 12s; $5-6.50, 14s; $4.50-6, 16s; $4.50-5.50, 18s; $4-5, 20s; and $4-4.50, 20s and 24s. Hadens from Mexico were $6-6.50 for sizes 6-9 and $5.50-6.50, 10s; and $5.25-6.25, 12s.

A year earlier, from the same countries of origin, kents and tommy atkins were $3.50-4 in all available sizes; ataulfos were $6.50-7.50 in 12s; $6-7, 14s and 18s; $6.50-7, 16s; $5-6, 20s; and $4-6, 22s; and hadens, $3.50-4.25, sizes 6-7; $3.50-4.25, 8s; $3.75-4.25, 9s; and $4.50, 10s and 12s.

“From a grower’s perspective, it has been a very decent market, and there’s a lot of interest in the potential for this year,” said Richard Campbell, director of tropical fruits, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Center, Miami.

As Mexico shipments start to peak, higher-than-normal prices should stabilize, said Jesse Capote, vice president/owner of Miami-based J&C Tropicals.

“The mango market has been short on the supply side, although the quality has been good,” he said.

Increase in volume

Volume from Mexico, where the Ataulfo variety dominates, is expected to exceed that of last year, said William Watson, executive director of the National Mango Board in Orlando, Fla.

“Over the summer, we anticipate Mexico bringing in a pretty substantial crop, maybe 5% larger than last year,” Watson said.

Mexico shipped an average of 46 million boxes to the U.S. from 2009 to 2011, accounting for 65% of the U.S. market, according to the mango board.

Peru is the next-largest supplier, with a three-year average of about 7 million boxes and a 9.7% share — although Peru reached 10 million boxes a year ago. Brazil’s three-year average was 5.4 million and a 7.42% share; Guatemala, 3.3 million, 4.63%; and Haiti, 2 million, 2.5%.

“Mexico has done a really good job of bringing yellow fruit to the market, and now we’re beginning to see other countries increase production of yellow fruit,” Watson said.

Some shippers said they anticipate a sizeable increase in volume out of Mexico this year.

“We’re expecting 15% growth this year, so you’ll see a lot more mangoes in the marketplace,” said Chris Ciruli, a partner in Ciruli Bros., a Nogales, Ariz.-based mango grower-shipper that sources exclusively from Mexico.

Rain hasn’t been much of a factor in Brazil, which will supply late-summer and fall markets, but temperature has played a role, said Flavio Muranaka, an advisor with Amexport in Petrolina, Brazil.

“The weather is very hot, and it will make more difficult,” he said.

Hot days can bring delays in shipments, he added.