Webinar details keys to success for mangos

mangosellAs the industry learns the many subtleties of mangos and then applies specific terminology to mango trade, the fruit’s sales can climb even faster. These matters involve varieties, sources, maturity and ripening, and certainly target the fruit’s ultimate use.

This was detailed in an information-packed 70-minute webinar presented June 30 by the National Mango Board. The presentation, titled Evolving Your Mango Strategy – What you Need to Know, was viewed by buyers, handlers and international growers. The show was recorded and is free to watch at mango.org.

The speakers were Mike Kostyo, a “trendologist” for Datassential, and Jason Hernandez, a chef consultant for Blade & Tine Culinary Consulting. The third speaker, Tim Beerup, is a produce supply chain consultant with the firm Beerup Inc.

Angela Serna, marketing manager of the National Mango Board, framed the meeting.

Mangos and foodservice
From Chicago, Kostyo provided “deep dive” market research information on mango sales in the United States.

Kostyo indicated that in 2019, 39.5 percent of restaurant menus offered some type of fresh or frozen mango option. This is “very strong” compared to many other produce items. That menu exposure has grown by 39 percent since 2009, when 28.4 percent of restaurant menus included mango. Kostyo’s chart showed a steady annual growth, but there was a notable 6 percent jump from 37.3 percent in 2018.

Kostyo foresees a 10 percent growth in menu presence in the next four years, which is “higher than 96 percent of other flavors.”

Mangos’ menu presence across the country is fairly consistent, with the Midwest and South standing at 40 percent and the Northeast and West menus offering mangos at 44 percent.

A long list of types of restaurants include mango on their menus. The three leading categories are American, Mexican and Indian. Kostyo noted that “American” is a very broad category that can include many different food types. But 19.5 percent of American restaurants offer mango. In Mexican restaurants, the figure is 14.4 percent, and Indian restaurants come in at 8.5 percent.

The top five most common mango offerings are drinks, listed in order: blended (11.8 percent) and cocktail/mixed (10.6 percent), with margarita, iced tea and frozen treat all showing between 5-6 percent.

The most common food uses for mango are in salads (4.8 percent) and fish entrees (3.7 percent).

Kostyo indicated that 79 percent of Americans have tried mango and 80 percent “liked or loved” the taste.

He noted that 79 percent is a strong number. For comparison, he added that 3 percent of Americans have never tried pizza, a food staple.

Kostyo began testing public perceptions on foods when the stay-at-home order went into place due to COVID-19. There is good news now for the industry, because today Mexican food is “most missed and most craved” by 6 percent of Americans. Asian food and seafood — two other big mango users — rank second and third at 31 and 30 percent, respectively.

Other good news for the mango industry is that Americans now put a top priority on consuming foods that will help them build immunity to Coronavirus, and mangos are associated with that role.

Mango preparation
The chef consultant Jason Hernandez, said mangos are very versatile, filling key roles with modern food demands for seasonings, spices and a move toward savory flavors.

Just a few of the innovation opportunities for fresh and frozen mango come with purees, glazes, salsas, chutney, frozen drinks, and accents for tacos and seafood. Green (unripened) mangos have long been popular in some cultures and present new opportunities for the American palate.

Hernandez prepares a mango noodle salad, with spiralized mango used as “a bright, light, sweet” accent to noodles. Firm mangos are needed for a spiral cut, which is just one way mango ripeness becomes a consideration for foodservice buyers. If mangos become too soft in a kitchen storeroom, there are puree opportunities, he noted.

But he advises mango vendors to understand what stage of ripeness is needed for foodservice applications.

Hernandez said there 1,200 mango varieties in the world, providing great opportunities for new applications. “Innovation is all about taking risks. Have fun,” he advised.

Mango the new avocado?
Produce supply chain consultant Tim Beerup emphasized that “mangos sell. People want mangos.” Most people “already have it in their hearts and minds that mango is a great product.”

Beerup believes that mangos are in many ways like avocados, and mangos can follow the same growth track that the avocado industry has enjoyed over the last 20 years.

Avocados are healthy and a great product for use in recipes. “Does that sound familiar?” he asked. “Consider mango the new avocado. Mango can follow a similar trajectory.”

He also encouraged his audience to think of bananas, with regards to ripening. Ethylene gas is critically important to ripening bananas, converting starch to sugar, and this is equally true for mangos. “Ethylene should not be feared but embraced.”

In 2019, mango was the 13th-ranked fruit in retail sales and No. 5 in fresh-cut applications. Fresh-cut mango saw a 17 percent growth in 2017.

Beerup noted that the aforementioned statistic of 80 percent of consumers liking mango “is a huge number.” He added that, of the 79 percent of the population who haven’t purchased mango, 27 percent hadn’t done so because they didn’t now how to select the fruit at retail. Of those who were disappointed in their mango purchase, 45 percent said the fruit wasn’t ripe enough.

Beerup noted that the produce industry needs to appreciate the variations within the mango business. U.S. importers source from many countries throughout the year, and the mangos from each country have different characteristics beyond simply shipping various mango varieties. Another variable in the business is the handling of mangos in holding rooms.

“Understanding mango is truly an art and a science,” he said.

Beerup offered a glossary of mango best practices for handling and ripening, as well as specific terminology that needs to be applied to maximize satisfactory mango distribution and use effectiveness.

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