Mango suppliers say the category still has a lot of room to grow, despite already seeing big gains.

“In 2013, mango sales increased 14% to $214 per store per week. Sales increased consistently in each quarter,” said Megan McKenna, director of marketing for the Orlando, Fla.-based National Mango Board.

“In addition, from 2008 to 2012 volume has increased 29% and price per box has increased 16%,” McKenna said.

Industry leaders get excited to think about the growth potential the U.S. offers the international mango market.

“The U.S. imports more mangoes than any other country, yet it only represents 1% of global consumption,” said Jose Rossignoli, category general manager at C.H. Robinson, Eden Prairie, Minn.

Because of all this growth, there is a sense of optimistic anticipation that surrounds the category, evident when speaking to suppliers.

“We’re always excited about mango season. It’s a great time of year because it’s right around the corner from spring and it’s always an exciting item to promote as we move into the new season,” said Chris Ciruli, chief executive officer of Ciruli Bros. LLC, Nogales, Ariz.

Mango shippers are seeing an opportunity for growth within their companies as well, especially on the West Coast.

Hidalgo, Texas-based GM Produce Sales LLC has seen significant growth in their Nogales, Ariz., location, something they hope to continue this year.

“Since opening up the operation in Nogales seven years ago, the company has more than doubled its volume,” said Wade Shiba, managing partner.

Greg Golden, partner and sales manager for Mullica Hill, N.J.-based Amazon Produce Network, has also seen significant increases on the West Coast. The company nearly doubled the number of boxes shipped from Peru to the West Coast this year, while shipments to the East Coast stayed fairly consistent.

He attributes this to better availability for vessel services.

“The East Coast had very limited space this year, and transit times are just going up,” he said.

The Chilean fruit strikes could have also affected mango shipments to the East Coast, Golden said.


Ripe and ready

One aspect that suppliers and marketers see as offering even more potential for the future is a way to bring a riper mango to market.

“Delivering a mango that’s ripe and ready to eat is still a challenge with imported mangoes. Consumers continue to tell us they do not know when a mango is ripe,” McKenna said.

The board is working to provide research that will create a complete descriptive analysis of various mango varieties from supplying countries.

“We want to better understand what optimal characteristics mangoes provide for consumers to take them home,” McKenna said.

There’s still work to be done, but most are optimistic about the progress.

“We have seen considerable growth of many other commodities that have been packed and shipped through a ripening program. We have a lot more research to do and feel we are on the right path,” McKenna said.

The board has a ripening Web seminar scheduled for April 24 to discuss why mango ripening is important to the U.S. consumer and how to use its new mango handling & ripening protocol.