The popularity of mangoes in the US is on the rise with more consumers reaching for healthier foods that can still feed their sweet tooth, and as a result the US imported $401 million worth of fresh mango from Mexico in 2015, along with $82.1 million worth of dried mango from Mexico, as well as the Philippines and Thailand, and $131.2 million of frozen mango from Mexico and Peru as the primary producers.
More recently, the fast food chain Wendy’s introduced fresh mangoes in its strawberry mango chicken salad, and as a result will need two million pounds of mangoes for the limited time offer and could “ignite a trend in the QSR segment,” that in turn could influence CPGs, according to Fabiola Fleuranvil, CEO of Blueprint Creative Group.
If this happens, and if Mexican mangoes are harder to come by, Fleuranvil says, the Senegalese government hopes manufacturers will look to it to buy mangoes, which it produces year round, unlike in some climates.
Fleuranvil, who is working with the government to promote its mangoes, further explained the Senegalese Export Promotion Agency (ASEPEX) has made the US dry fruit manufacturing and production industry its main priority in effort to solve its “sweet problem” of too many mangoes for its population to eat.
She noted that ASEPEX, acting as part of the recently formed West African Mango Alliance, wants to promote market opportunities for American businesses in Senegal’s mango sector because nearly half of the country’s mango production (40%) is going to waste.
It has zeroed in on the US in particular because the European market has already taken advantage of the zero customs duty offered by the African Growth and Opportunity Act, she said, adding the US has been slow to capitalize on the duty-free entry AGOA offers it on almost all African products.
In addition to economic incentives, Senegal can offer supply stability, she said.
“The risk to buyers is seasonality to mangoes, which can often drive retail prices for consumers. The advantage for West Africa mangoes is that it can meet year-round production demand compared to Florida (the largest mango producer in the US) and source markets like Mexico and Costa Rica,” which are limited to the mass production of one or two mango varieties, while West Africa produces five varieties year round and four other seasonal varieties.
One drawback to sourcing mangoes from Senegal could be that fresh mango export is not available do to phytosanitation concerns, but the tradeoff is support for creating value added products such as juices, smoothies, dried fruit chips, all of which have “substantial growth opportunities as health and specialty food trends grow,” Fleuranvil said.
She also noted that part of the strategic plan to increase participation of American businesses is the upcoming Mango Trade Mission in Dakar, Senegal on Oct. 6-12, “where potential buyers can learn a lot about manufacturing, production and investment opportunities in Senegal and across West Africa.”
This builds on efforts by the USAID’s West African Trade Hub to help Senegalese mango companies meet regulatory requirements for export to the US “as well as an initiative to match-make potential US buyers with a short list of 14 West African Mango companies that have received certification support, training and/or marketing support over the past couple of years,” she said.
The hub also organized a Mango Symposium last April with buyers, including some from the US, and last summer hosted a Mango Week with members of the value chain across the West African Mango Alliance, she added.