Severe weather problems in South America hit EU and UK mango supply

Mango production was badly affected by weather

Peruvian mango production has been badly affected by weather problems

What is being described as the worst Peruvian mango season in recent memory is at the heart of a wretched time for the category. 

El Niño-driven weather problems in South America have led buyers to dig deep across their global supply chains to meet demand. But a 70 per cent collapse in Peruvian mango production has led to shortages on the European market.

This was compounded by issues in Ecuador – the main supplier to the US – piling pressure on buyers, who have sought product from previously unusual markets such as Brazil and South Africa, according to Blue Skies MD Hugh Pile.

There remains a major shortage of mango, he explains. Newly arriving fruit is quickly snapped up, which leaves a deficit.

“We’ve just experienced the worst Peruvian season I can remember in the 26 years I’ve worked in the mango industry,” confirms Lewey Hook, technical director at SH Pratt Tropical. “

The extreme weather conditions in South America last year meant Ecuador and Peru were hit particularly hard, which impacted on the season we’ve just experienced. This was because the freakish weather affected flowering and fruiting in Peru.”

Hook says SH Pratt Tropical navigates the world on a seasonal basis for its mango supplies, and is now moving into the more stable West African fruit season.

Similarly, Blue Skies casts its net wide, taking advantage of its packhouse and own farms in the Ivory Coast, and two processing sites in Ghana and Benin.

The current situation has brought into sharp focus the need to be nimble and look at innovative solutions in the category, and that includes new varieties.

“If the time, research and development is invested, this may result in new, different varieties emerging which could have a better flavour, size and colour,” explains Hook. “Research and development are key and it is an area where money needs to go back into the industry.”

The supply shortages haven’t helped the category at the UK retail shelf, and consumer penetration remains low.

Whole fruit is regarded as needing consistent quality to grow the market, but prepared mango remains a success story, growing at nine per cent in the last year to £77m [Circana, 52 w/e 23 March].