Originally printed in the February 2020 issue of Produce Business.
Effective displays can help retailers merchandise surging volume.
As Mexico’s mango production and shipments to its northern neighbors increase, supermarkets can accommodate the larger volume and encourage more shopper purchases by erecting larger displays in and outside of the produce department.
From January through May, Mexican mangos face little competition from other fruit on the shelves. By offering a needed late winter and early spring fruit before most summertime fruit commences, Mexican mangos provide retailers another commodity to stir consumer interest and boost register rings.
“Mangos are the most popular fruit in the world,” says Tammy Wiard, retail marketing manager for the Orlando, FL, National Mango Board (NMB). “Retailers can continue to build their sales by carrying multiple varieties and sizes.”
Mango demand is growing. In 2019, mango volume increased 2%, matching the overall produce category. In sales, mangos experienced an 8% lift as compared to the overall produce category at 2%, according to preliminary NMB data.
Amazon Produce Network LLC’s volume increased 28% from 2018 to 2019, says Salvador Barba, partner with the Vineland, NJ, importer, shipper and distributor. “Marketing opportunities for mangos are endless,” he says. “Demand will continue to increase due to consumers hearing about all the vitamin properties of mangos. As consistency and quality continue to improve at the retail level, consumers are noticing mangos a lot more and should be willing to try then at one point.”
MAKE SPRING, SUMMER SALES SIZZLE
Typically, June and July are the biggest promotable volumes for Mexican mangos, though volume remains strong in the Spring and after mid-Summer. As California Summer fruit does not appear until late May, Mexico is the best region available at the time, says Gary Clevenger, managing member and co-founder of Freska Produce International LLC, in Oxnard, CA.
“It’s a very important part of a retailer’s Summer needs,” says Clevenger. Honeys and red varieties will be available to place on the shelves. “Mangos have become mainstream and need to be. The freshness and flavor of Mexican mangos make them a no-brainer. These are the best times to offer Spring/Summer fruit from January to September.”
Carrollton, TX-based G.E. Foodland, which operates Foodland Markets and Elrod’s Cost Plus Supermarkets in the Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, metropolitan region, merchandises mangos throughout the year.
“We love to promote mangos year-round because the fruit is good all year,” says Tommy Melton, G.E. Foodland’s produce supervisor. “We are learning more ways to use mangos, and we are educating our customers on how to choose a ripe mango and how to store the product for optimal use. The more we educate our customers and associates, the more mangos become a staple item in our diets.”
Mango movement during the Spring and Summer is growing. “Mexican mango sales have grown every year and continue to show promise,” says Cindy Swanberg Schwing, senior marketing/business development manager for London Fruit, Inc., which is based in Pharr, TX. “There is an insatiable demand for mangos.”
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Access to North American retailers is a big selling point. “The No. 1 advantage is timing,” says Chris Ciruli, chief operating officer of Ciruli Brothers LLC, which ships from Nogales, AZ. “It’s how quick it comes to market. You can harvest and be at the market within 48-to-72 hours. You don’t have that luxury on any of these offshore deals that come into the country. You can pick fruit at a much riper state and deliver it much quicker into the U.S. market as it’s coming over land and not over water.”
Mexican mangos are important because of the Spring and Summer shipping seasons. “Mangos are very tied to the weather, the temperatures,” says Daniel Ibarra Lugo, president of Splendid By Porvenir LLC, South San Francisco, CA. “People don’t want to eat tropical fruit when the weather is very cold,” he says. “When we are in Spring and Summer, consumption goes up because people are tied to that tropical feeling. They will consume more mangos during the Mexican season.”
Mexican export volume has been increasing by 10% a year, producing 8 million more boxes of the 80 million-to- 84 million boxes it typically exports, says Ciruli.
This heightened volume offers sales opportunities for retailers, says Ronnie Cohen, principal with Vision Import Group LLC, headquartered in Hackensack, NJ. “It’s more profits, more profits and more profits for everyone,” he says. “Mexico’s strategic proximity to the United States gives best and quick access to market when Mexico has its large production.”
Retailers are positioning mango displays in the front of their produce departments. Redesigned mango bins offered through the NMB have garnered retailer excitement and engagement and spread the industry’s new brand message: “Mango, the Super Fun Superfruit!” The NMB plans to distribute thousands of bins this year to its retail partners.
“We know that the use of bins provides a more permanent location for mangos, so it’s easier for the consumer to consistently find the mangos they love,” says NMB’s Wiard. “By placing the bins at the front of the produce section, the produce team can create excitement and encourage impulse buys, creating incremental sales. Our retailers have seen an aggregate lift of more than 40% when using the NMB provided in-store bins.”
Large corners or standalone displays work well, notes Freska’s Clevenger. “The fruit is colorful and draws attention to the shopper with large colorful displays,” he says. “Retailers could do half-red varieties and half-honey mangos in a display to offer choices.” Clevenger recommends keeping the fruit priced right. “Consumers like multiples, and retail can move volume for shippers during the heavy volume times from Mexico,” he says. “Communicate with buyers to let them know these time frames, so that they can jump on board and push volume during high volume crossings at the border.”
Checkout lanes are a most sought-after spot. To encourage impulse purchases, Cohen recommends retailers position mangos in such secondary displays, which help expand sales. “There’s usually a secondary display on the stand some place as well, depending on the store,” he says.
“Most of the time, entrance displays drive people into produce departments. As soon as they’re up front, they see them.” The different price points offered by dual displays of smaller and larger fruit entice purchases and give shoppers options, says Cohen.
Secondary displays outside of the produce department generate awareness and mango trial, says Wiard. To supply shoppers more options, retailers should consider grouping mangos by size and/or ripeness. “We’ve seen some beautiful displays that combine whole mangos alongside fresh-cut mangos, showing the versatility and freshness of mangos,” says Wiard.
Retailers can merchandise mangos in a variety of ways, says Amazon’s Barba. “There are so many different presentations that can be used at the store level, like selling mangos in club packs or when offered individually. Large, nicely stacked displays always catch the consumers’ eye,” he says.
Large displays help, but size alone isn’t always critical, says Nathen Conat, manager of Olympia, WA’s Bayview Thriftway and Ralph’s Thriftway. “It isn’t necessarily how big the display is,” he says. “It’s how nicely the display is put together. It’s not the size, but how does it draw you in, and how beautiful the display is, which makes a big difference. The display doesn’t have to be too busy, but make sure you have other things with it to cross merchandise, which is real important.”
DISPLAY MULTIPLE VARIETIES
In 2017, Conat won 4th place in the NMB display contest in the stores with one-to-six registers category. “Obviously, find whatever the best mango in season is, whether that be a Keitt, a Kent, a Tommy Atkins or a honey,” he says. “When you build displays, you really want to make sure you have the honey mangos because of the color difference in them. When I do a tropical set like that, I want to make sure I have other tropical items like pineapples and limes in it, maybe even some lemons. Really make it colorful. That will really draw a customer.”
Because mangos are stored at ambient temperatures, the fruit is more adept at being cross merchandised in other parts of the store. Mangos can be mixed with non-produce items, including in the chip aisle or in the meat and seafood areas for fish and pork, says Ciruli Brothers’ Ciruli. “It isn’t like lettuce or celery, where it has to be wet and cold,” he says. “This gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility, as you can move bins around the store and erect displays in non-produce areas.”
Mangos work well in cross merchandising, says London Fruit’s Swanberg Schwing. “Use the popularity of a known fruit like mangos to help introduce a less known, more exotic fruit like Dragon fruit or jackfruit. Although mangos are more well-known, their flavor profile can still be positioned as an exotic experience. Be sure to maintain the areas where they are displayed. Suggestive selling is always good.”
Retailers often position lemon displays at their seafood counters. Bananas are effectively merchandised in cereal aisles. Mangos can fit in sushi counters or juice bars. “There’s a place for mangos as well,” says Cohen. “Any time you can cross merchandise with another produce or grocery item from time to time is good. As consumption and production grows simultaneously, there will be lots of room for creative merchandising.”
CROSS MERCHANDISING SUCCESS
Mangos and bananas always do well together, says Amazon’s Barba. “Having mangos in different areas at the store level gives consumers the opportunity to see them in case they did not visit the produce section,” he says. “As volume and fibreless varieties grow in Mexico, retailers are giving mangos a little more space at the store level and having multiple sizes offered as well as different varieties in order to attract all consumers’ attention.”
Mangos merchandise well with chili spices, salad toppers and other fruit, including peaches. “Offer multiple sizes, large and small fruit and also multiple varieties, including yellows and reds,” says Clevenger. “Also, offer ready-to-eat mangos, and place some point-of-sale materials at the displays.”
Spring and Summer afford numerous opportunities to merchandise mangos. “Show a multiplicity of ways in which to prepare mangos,” says London Fruit’s Swanberg Schwing. Mangos can be merchandised on forks, with yogurt, in smoothies, salads and puddings, as mango jello and pie, as salsa, chutney and cocktails. “Try to think outside of the box, and be creative about presentation, promotional themes, splashy displays and tie-ins with other fruit. Put them on ad,” she says.
Themed-displays help move units. Stores can choose a NMB recipe and request its employees group the ingredients in store. Such a display helps shoppers load their carts with everything needed for the recipe, which provides meal solutions for families on the go. “While it sounds simple, this strategy leads to colorful displays that draw in shoppers by telling a story and offering a solution,” says Wiard.
Frequent promotion is a key to successful sales. “Mangos are an item we promote as often as we can,” says G.E. Foodland’s Melton. “We sell mangos all year. We keep them in high traffic areas. They’re a good impulse item we can and do use in our produce departments. Our customers are always looking for mangos.”
DOUBLING OF CONSUMPTION
With U.S. mango consumption at 3 pounds per-person, the mango industry’s goal, through the NMB, is to double consumption over the next decade, says Ciruli. Though many retailers merchandise mangos in 4-foot-by-4-foot displays, to match increasing production and consumption, retailers should erect more sizeable displays. “If you look at the trends over the past 30 years, retailers have to build much larger displays,” he says. “You have to take mangos out of the exotic section. Retailers need to start placing mangos on tables and erect vast displays. Retailers using bigger displays are getting much bigger and better movement.”
Produce executives need to keep mangos relevant with large displays throughout the year, similar to avocados, advises Clevenger. “The trend of mangos will follow similar trends of the avocados, and growth will continue to boom over the next few years,” he says. “Sales and demand will continue to increase over the next few years. I see demand doubling over the next five-to-seven years.”
Multiple varieties should also be marketed. While many supermarkets merchandise one type of mango at a time, others carry two simultaneously, which adds color to the display and can hike sales. “They’re growing the category by not giving them just one item,” says Ciruli. “By featuring two colors, you will move more product.”
“Because mangos are stored at ambient temperatures, the fruit is more adept at being cross merchandised in other parts of the store.”— Chris Ciruli, Ciruli Brothers LLC
As Mexico harvests many varieties through most of the season, retailers can erect larger displays which make mangos more accessible to shoppers, says Amazon’s Barba. “Bigger displays are great, and if retailers can find floor space near the front of the produce department, it will let consumers find mangos easier,” he says.
Effective pricing is also important. “Consumers are always looking for deals,” says Barba. “Offering mangos in multiples such as two for $3 or three for $5 will attract shoppers,” he says.
To assure quality, retailers should buy mangos as fresh as possible and as close to the sourcing point. Maintaining them at optimal temperatures along with regular rotation is important, says Swanberg Schwing. Position in high-traffic endcap displays. “If available, utilize all merchandising tools and signage to help promote the product and educate the consumer,” she says. “Order all materials available from the NMB. Make sure the fruit is stickered, and place display recipe cards if available by the displays. Take full advantage of sampling or demo programs if offered.”
Mexico begins shipping honey mangos in January and February through July. The Tommy Atkins variety typically begins in mid-February and harvests into June. Hadens also ship during the early part of the deal. May and June see the transition to the Kent variety, which runs through August, overlapping with the Keitts, which typically begin in late July and run through the fall.
“Demand with yellow fruit begins in January and ends with large Keitts in September,” says Clevenger. “The bookends are very good periods for Mexican mangos.”
As growers do a better job managing their orchards and produce higher quality fruit, volume will increase, says Vision’s Cohen. “Overall, mangos are following avocados about 10 years lagging,” he says. “But, we also think mangos have the potential to overcome avocados as the No. 1 fruit. It will take time, and it will really be an evolution.”
Movement continues to explode. “Mexican mangos will continue growing every year,” says Splendid’s Ibarra Lugo. “Mangos have become important, like a luxury fruit. They’re more like a tomato, something everyone needs on their tables. They have come to be a fruit for everyday consumers. Americans are trying to eat mangos every day or at least more often versus occasionally and seasonally.”