The new chairman of the National Mango Board is a third-generation produce businessman from the New York area.
âMy grandfather was in this business in the Washington Street market,â said Ronnie Cohen, vice president of sales at River Edge, N.J.-based Vision Import Group LLC. âHe started Shapiro & Cohen in the early 1930s, an old-school wholesale business.â
When the terminal market came to Hunts Point in the 1960s, Cohenâs grandfather, father and uncle went there. Cohen worked in the family business for a time in the late 1980s onward.
Three years ago, he formed Vision Import Group with partners Raul Millan and Bill Vogel. They import mangoes, limes, pineapples, clementines and lemons. Tavilla Sales in Los Angeles, Calif., is Visionâs sister company, Cohen said.
Limes are their biggest item. Vision focuses on Persian seedless limes, sourcing 95% from Mexico. In limited windows they import fruit from Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador and Colombia.
âLime volume was steady all summer and into fall,â he said. âWeâre falling into a winter pattern. The volume is down and the price is up.â
For mangoes the deals in Guatemala and Nicaragua wonât start until late March. Theyâll run through May, Cohen said.
Costa Ricaâs deal is in February and March, about the same time as ataulfo mangoes in southern Mexico.
So for now, he focuses on South America. Peruâs deal is under way and could stretch into April.
âBecause of weather patterns in Peru the crop is starting later in some areas than others,â he said in late November. âThereâs product, but in less volume. There are some mangoes, but if you harvest it at the wrong time itâll never ripen after hot-water treatment. Youâll have sunken shoulders.
âThe Peruvians are shipping more to Europe earlier. They can go to Europe without having to do a hot-water process. They take less risk and make more money.â