The mango industry is in step with all requirements of the Produce Traceability Initiative, said William Watson, executive director of the National Mango Board, Orlando, Fla.
“We want to ensure PTI elements are met in a way that meets everyone’s concerns and we’re still working through the details,” he said.
“Like many other commodities, we’re watching to see how PTI will be implemented and/or funded.”
Traceability standards may be making their way across the produce industry, but mango growers, shippers and marketers say it’s a concept that is well entrenched in their crop.
“I think that’s a good thing the mango industry has done,” Richard Campbell, senior curator of tropical fruits with Coral Gables, Fla.-based Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Research Center.
“The industry is pushing the grower and the companies that way.”
The mango industry, consisting primarily of imported fruit, has had regulators watching it, anyway, guarding against fruit fly infestations, said Tony Godinez, member of the National Mango Board and president of Godinez International LLC and Freshrite Produce LLC of Hidalgo, Texas, agreed with that assessment.
“This is very interesting because the mango industry is one of the most traceable, has the most traceback already in place,” he said.
“They’ve always been subject to treatment. Every box that comes into the U.S. has markings that trace it back to the packinghouse where it was packed and the grove where it was picked. So, from that standpoint, the mango industry has always been ready for traceability.”
The industry does have some further steps to take, though, and it is making progress, said Wade Shiba, another member of the mango board and president of GM Produce Sales LLC, Hidalgo, Texas.
“They seem to know, at least on certain pallets,” he said.
“The problem we have is, possibly, if mangoes are sold in bulk or loose in retail, if they can absolutely be traced back to an orchard. We can do it by pallet or by box also.”
It’s not very hard to do, Shiba said.
“There are a lot of protocols, mainly because of the fruit fly pest issue, concerning mangoes,” he said.
“We have to treat them in hot water, so the control and regulation just for the pest is pretty strict. We look at what order they came from, if it’s a certified orchard, to make sure the fruit didn’t come from a non-certified orchard for export.”
In some cases, growers and shippers are waiting to see what steps need to be taken next, said Greg Golden, sales manager and co-owner of Amazon Produce Network, Mullica Hill, N.J.
“All of my growers have it on their radar screen, but nobody is ready to print box by box and lot by lot with bar codes,” he said.
“Everybody is waiting for a solutions provider to come down and make it affordable and doable.”