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Mangoes: what makes Europe an interesting market

While tropical fruit consumption is increasing, the main problem now is finding reliable suppliers

The consumption of mangoes in Europe is rising despite difficulties in sourcing and the preference for local seasonal fruit. The market prefers Kent and Keitt varieties and there is an increasing demand for ripened and freshly cut mangoes. But the availability of high quality mangoes can significantly influence the consumption in Europe.

These are some of the trends set to be scrutinised at the Tropical Fruit Congress taking place on 6th May at Macfrut in Rimini. Myfruit.it is the media partner for the event and in the coming weeks will publish the latest available data on exotic and tropical fruit, with a particular focus on the European market.

Mangoes: the European market potential

We take a look at the main findings of a study on the European mango market conducted by ICI Business for the Center for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), which is part of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and is financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

Mangoes are an increasingly popular fruit, with rising levels of consumption (as prices have become more attractive to consumers), and the fruit is mostly imported from developing countries. Finding a reliable supply is one of the main problems in maintaining stability in the mango market.

Fresh mango consumption increases when prices go down

The mango market is unpredictable due to large fluctuations in supply volumes and, today, also as a result of shifting demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. But in the long term, the market will continue to grow in size.

In 2019 the average import price (value-weight ratio) increased for the first time since 2015 due to periods with lower availability (see figure below). In 2020 the mango market and prices collapsed due to the numerous lockdowns and logistical problems at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, European mango imports increased to an estimated 432,000 tonnes, 14,000 more than in 2019. The outlook for 2021, meanwhile, indicated greater availability, which was good for supermarket supply programmes, although wholesalers experienced a strong squeeze on their selling prices.

In general, consumers’ interest and appetite for mangoes is increasing, mainly thanks to the fibreless mango varieties and improved ripening practices. But despite this, mango consumption is largely driven by supply and influenced by external factors such as available volumes, quality, price and the promotion of competing local fruits in Europe. For all these reasons, mango sales are difficult to forecast.
Short-term supply volumes and prices can be volatile, but with global volumes increasing, mangoes with affordable prices will become more accessible to European consumers.

ICI Business recommendations for producers and exporters: when supplying the European market, make sure to maintain a long-term strategy. Once you start supplying European clients, it is important to show continuity. To leave a good impression, you should continue to offer exportable mangoes even when prices are less favourable.

Popular fruit to source in developing countries

The mango trade depends heavily on countries with tropical climates. The annual growth of imports from developing countries is a positive sign that growers are gradually improving fruit quality and supply reliability.

Developing countries account for 88% of the total mango trade in the European Union (404,000 tonnes in 2020, including EU production), and 94% of EU imports (see figure below). EU imports from developing countries reached 352,000 tonnes in 2020, with the least developed countries claiming a market share of 25,000 tonnes. While mango imports from developing countries are increasing year on year, growth from other non-European suppliers, mainly Israel and the United States, has flattened.

Due to different climate zones and short harvest periods, no single country or mango variety can offer a long supply season. That is why different varieties and production sources are needed to ensure continuity of supply. The production campaigns in these tropical countries are not always stable. Temporary shortfalls and oversupply (due to overlapping seasons) sometimes result in an erratic supply market. This volatility and the need for multiple suppliers thus make it difficult for traders to fill supply programmes with major buyers.

Conversely, the lack of a programmed market supply makes mangoes an interesting export crop for small growers. However, while even large producers struggle with quality issues, for small producers it is often difficult to meet demands in terms of supply volumes. For European buyers it remains a challenge to find high quality mangoes all year round. The market needs stability and quality in supply, but to what extent this will improve over time remains to be seen.

ICI Business recommendations for producers and exporters: increase your chances in Europe by providing a reliable, good quality supply. Make sure you do what you promise to do, and be honest about the volume and quality you can offer. To reduce your risks, it is best to diversify your markets. Find out how to apply the best quality management for mangoes by reading up on mango.org.

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