Mango marketing agents hope their product can break through its traditional hiding spots in restaurants.
It’s standard to find the product in salsas or perhaps as an ingredient in ice cream offerings.
“We realize mangoes are big in foodservice, but most used there are processed, and we’re all about fresh,” said Veronica Kraushaar, president of Viva Global Marketing, Nogales, Ariz., which works with Nogales-based Farmers Best International LLC.
Chris Ciruli, partner in Rio Rico, Ariz.-based Ciruli Bros., said mangoes remain, on the whole, stuck in their traditional restaurant rut.
“There are a few restaurants that are running some seasonal specials,” he said. “You see use in puree or frozen. They’re just not using fresh. It’s obviously a difficult piece of fruit to handle as far as cutting or getting it at the correct ripeness. But we are seeing some definite strides in the foodservice industry.”
There’s hope mangoes are beginning to establish their own place on restaurant menus, but marketing agents say it’s a tough barrier to clear.
“It’s still specialty people who ask for them,” said Doug Flowerree, owner of the Mango Factory in Bokeelia, Fla. “I’ve had people contact me for fresh mangoes in their ice cream. I do know there are health-food stores that buy mangoes.”
Others in the industry have noted that they’re getting more requests for mangoes from foodservice customers.
“I think that right now, the chefs are requesting mangoes in restaurants,” said Sabine Henry, sales manager for tropical fruits for Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Central American Produce.
She said mangoes in salsas and sauces and purees are popular, but they are now becoming menu items unto themselves.
“You see them on Asian restaurant menus,” she said. “It’s becoming common because mangoes add to a tropical theme. Seafood is a big thing to have with mangoes.”
Richard Campbell, director of tropical fruits for Coral Gables, Fla.-based Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Research Center, said mangoes have made a lot of headway into foodservice.
However, sometimes foodservice operators use mediocre mangoes.
“Right now, foodservice with mangoes is little chunks of mangoes used in salsa, and that’s one-dimensional. There’s a lot of room, I think, in foodservice for mango, and we’re not realizing that properly yet.”
Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development, Pompano Beach-based Southern Specialties, concurred.
“It’s not been necessarily mangoes as a side item but also mango salsas or mango preserves or mangoes used in other products,” he said. “Being exposed to mangoes and all their uses will continue to expose consumers to a great product.”
The National Mango Board is working to build foodservice sales, said Tony Godinez, a board member, as well as and president of Godinez International LLC and Freshrite Produce LLC of Hidalgo, Texas.
“The board works directly with a lot of food editors to introduce recipes and ideas and, at least once a year, it has chefs from the different national chains meet with some of our experts to introduce new ideas to introduce new menu offerings on their menu,” he said.