Red and green varieties may dominate the mango supply in the UK market, but an Ecuadorian shipper believes the country’s large Indian and Pakistani population has created more opportunities.
Finca Tres Marias general manager Joe Roman told PBUK the grower-exporter had started operating in the 1990s with conventional fruit and later branched out to organic production in 2003.
It currently grows four varieties – Tommy Atkins, Keitt, Edward and Ataulfo.
Speaking at The London Produce Show and Conference last week, he explained exports to Europe had been growing steadily year-to-year, with around 22 pallets shipped per week during the last season.
In Europe the tropical fruit is exported to the Netherlands, from where it is sold mainly to France and Germany, and to a lesser extent Italy and Belgium.
However, Roman believes there is somewhat of a gap in the British market for the yellow-skinned Ataulfo mango variety.
“Pakistani and Indian people consume a lot of yellow mangoes, as most of the mangoes from those countries are yellow,” he said.
“Of course every variety has a different taste, and I think there is an opportunity for selling that mango in this market.”
The market for red and green mango varieties like Tommy Atkins, Kent and Keitt had already been heavily developed in the UK, he explained.
At present the vast majority of mangoes sold in Britain are red and green varieties like Tommy Atkins, Kent and Keitt, according to Roman, but he hopes to replicate his success in the European continent and Canada.
“We export the mangoes when they are unripe and green to Canada via air, and they sell them as unripe mainly to Chinese stores. But Pakistani people buy this mango in Canada,” he said.
He said the first trials of one or two pallets would be carried out to the UK when the next season kicks off in September, with plans for annual growth if everything goes well.
“If these mangoes go to supermarkets like Sainsbury’s or Tesco, for sure there will be a lot of people that eat this kind of mango. The flavour is really great,” he said.
At the trade fair in London, a representative from trade promotion group ProEcuador highlighted bananas were the country’s main fresh produce export to the UK and Europe.
Ecuador’s recent accession to a trade deal with the European Union (EU) has helped to drive up banana exports by around a fifth this year, and trade officer Juan Terán Jurado said he expected the country to finish the year around 15-20% up on 2016.
He said while Ecuadorian mango exports to the UK were relatively small at present, the industry was expecting strong growth in the coming years.
Pineapples and papaya are among the other major tropical fruits Ecuador ships to the UK, he added.