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Mexican mangos on the mind at Coast Citrus Distributors

Coast Citrus Distributors, headquartered in San Diego, CA, has been a major wholesaler of fruits and vegetables in the U.S. and Mexico for almost 70 years.

Isabel Cheda Freeland, vice president of the company, noted Mexican mangos are a vital segment for the company as its known for tropical items and mangos are a big part of that category.

“We like to be known as a strong tropical provider so it’s very important for us,” she said. “We handle mangos 52 weeks out of the year and like to make sure we have good supply for the entire period.”

IMG 1467 Coast Citrus Distributors offers Tommy, Kent and Ataulfo mangos.

Mangos have been a growth category for the company overall, with increases of about 10 percent each year of late.

“This year we project to grow another 15 percent,” Freeland said. “We started on time in February with Honey mangos, and that’s what you have been seeing in the market in Mexico.”

She sees a good crop ahead in 2019 for the company, though some others had trees damaged from recent hurricanes. Coast Citrus Distributors expects to have more volume this year, while rumors are many others won’t be meeting their original projections.

“Fortunately, our farms were not that close to the ocean so we were able to withstand damage,” Freeland said.

The biggest challenge the industry faces concerns ripening, as Freeland explains that unlike bananas, mangos have different ripening stages and it requires a lot of education to consumers to know when they are ready.

“In one single box, from the same tree, you have different ripening and it’s difficult to separate by touch,” she said. “It’s really a matter of taste. What’s great is to provide the consumer with a little bit of everything so they can taste and choose what they like.”

On the retail level, Freeland would like to see more visibility for Mexican mangos within the produce department.

“We want to make it easier for the consumer to spot it, whether that means a bigger display or bins in locations that are easy to spot,” she said. “Unfortunately, retailers don’t have mangos out front every week, but the more they promote them, the bigger the sales will be. We see those that are successful are the ones pushing mangos hard.”

Coast Citrus Distributors is opening two new packinghouses in Mexico this year, and the company is looking to eventually grow the category in other countries, such as Brazil and Ecuador. For now, it’s looking to stay strong in Mexico.

“Mexico is a huge country and mangos grow in different months and different areas so it’s almost like you have three or four countries within one,” she said. “At first you only have the honey mangos, then you begin in Oaxaca down south and go forward, and if you’re not properly established throughout Mexico, you won’t have a consistent supply.”