For the past few weeks, the air in Malaga has had a mango fragrance. Even though this tropical fruit is a relatively new crop in Andalusia, in just three decades, the province's acreage has become greater than that of vineyards, tomatoes, peppers or artichokes, and could even end up exceeding that of lemons and oranges. Of the almost 4,000 hectares currently planted in Andalusia, more than 3,300 correspond to Malaga. Some experts suggest that in a few years, the acreage could exceed 6,000 hectares in the province of Malaga alone. At the Andalusian level, Málaga and, in particular, the Axarquia accounts for more than 95% of the region's mango cultivation. The rest corresponds to the Tropical Coast of Granada. This has turned Malaga into the leading mango producer in the European Union. In the current season, which is already coming to an end, the production is expected to be more than 30,000 tons greater than initially planned. The sector's figures are enviable, although the prices paid to the producers have been lower than in the previous campaign.
According to Benjamín Faulí, technician at Asaja Málaga and expert in tropical fruits, Spanish mangoes are the fourth most marketed in the EU in terms of volume. "The fruit's consumption in the EU is increasing every year. Over the past five years (2013-2017), consumption has increased by 34.2%, from 268,686 tons to 360,602 tons," said Faulí at Fruit Attraction.
Almost 100% of the Spanish mango production (96%) is shipped to the European Union, with its main destinations being Portugal (45%), France (23%) and Germany (13%). In the previous campaign, however, only 6.1% of the mangoes consumed in Europe were of Spanish origin.
Most of the mangoes consumed in the EU are imported, especially from Latin America. The bulk of the fruit arrives in Europe through re-exports. In 2017, 249,927 tonnes (69.31 percent of the total) were re-exported. The Netherlands is the main re-exporting country, with 138,340 tonnes; 55% of the total volume consumed in the EU. "This means that two out of every three mangoes sold in the EU go through the Netherlands," said Faulí.
However, Spain plays an increasingly prominent role in mango trade in the European continent, being the second biggest re-exporter within the EU, with 43,632 tonnes in 2017; almost twice as much as in 2013 (22,936 tonnes).
All or almost all Malaga-based companies and Spanish mango marketers import fruit from third countries to supply their customers during the off-season, to the point that this activity has become the largest part of the sector's business. The same happens with avocados.
"Spain stands in fourth place, with 6%, ahead of Israel or Senegal, although very far from the largest suppliers in Latin America, Brazil and Peru, which account for 60% of the mangoes consumed in the EU," explained Faulí.