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Peel colour propaganda for limes?

Mangoes, limes and avocados. A successful trio. The market for the three exotics has been growing considerably in recent years, and is of sufficient size for Carlos Andre de Faria of SunCity to focus completely on these three products. All of the products are imported from Brazil. Andre talks about the developments on the mango and lime market.

“Our most important volumes are limes and mangoes,” Andre says. “We would like to be known as Brazilian expert, so we import from this country year-round.” The mangoes are imported from the region of Petrolina City in the northeast of the country. “Mangoes are grown in three other regions, but those are mostly for the domestic market.” The mangoes imported by SunCity are sold on European markets, such as the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, but they have additional export to Canada, the US, the United Arab Emirates and occasionally to Russia. 

Competition Peruvian mangoes
“We have noticed more growers want certificates, such as GRASP and FairTrade, because more and more countries have strict regulations,” Andre says. In Germany, among other places, the regulations are becoming more stringent. “Inspections for residues are also becoming more extensive. Each year, more restrictions for pesticides are in effect within the EU, but the production countries can’t adjust as quickly as desired by the EU.”

Earlier this year, Brazilian exporters were angered because Peruvian exporters were going to start exporting early. According to Andre, the impact wasn’t too bad. “Peru only enters the market early when the weather is good. In the past five years, we have seen the climate change in South America. That disrupts the normal and natural cycle of the production.” According to the importer, the quality of the early Peruvian fruit isn’t good enough, so that it’s not a lucrative trade for Peruvian exporters. “Every time they decide to enter the market early, they destroy the market for Brazilian supply. Brazil’s peak is in November. I don’t think it’s interesting for Peruvian growers to start earlier. The fruit would have a lower brix, and it would enter a market filled with Brazilian mangoes.”

Ripened on trees for best flavour
Demand for Brazilian mangoes is stable. “I’ve seen a growing demand for new varieties that are similar to the ultimate perception of quality mangoes.” Colour, brix and size play an important role in that. “Country of origin doesn’t play a role in that, but only Brazil is capable of supplying mangoes year-round. As far as I know, this is the only country that has mangoes non-stop year-round.” Keith and Palmer mangoes are available from Brazil throughout the year. “Tommy Atkins always has some demand,” Andre says. Brazilian Kent mangoes arrive on the market too late in the year, the peak’s in November.

On the mango market, ready-to-eat is becoming increasingly important. The fruit only has a good flavour and colour if it’s ripe. “In that context, the right colour and flavour can only be found in mangoes ripened on trees. You’d never get the same result with ripening chambers.” The tree-ripened mangoes have to be flown in. “We mostly fly the Palmer, because these have a stable supply year-round.” Because of that, the largest sales market for flown mangoes form SunCity is on the Iberian Peninsula.

Peel colour propaganda
“We import limes from three regions,” Andre continues. The Sao Paulo and Jaiba regions have year-round supply. During the first four months of the year, the Amazonia region is also on the market. Demand for the exotic fruit is mostly decided by the weather. “I think demand is stable, sunshine and weather make all the difference in sales.” Southern Europe, especially Spain and France, are important buyers of limes. “The French definitely prefer Brazilian limes, because they want juice rather than colour. Spain and Portugal also prefer Brazilian limes.”

Colour is a decisive factor on the limes market. Mexican limes are characterised by their bright green colour. Limes from other countries are often more yellow, which isn’t appreciated by all markets. The Brazilian limes also have a lighter peel. “Our varieties are mostly meant for cooking and not for drinking. Because of that, the juice is more important than the peel. I think it’s a kind of propaganda, because the lighter colour doesn’t change the flavour. Only when the limes are old and start rotting is the flavour affected. Latinos don’t see the colour as a disadvantage. They know there’s no difference in flavour.”

More information:
Andre de Faria

Publication date: 10/12/2017


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