Today, Spain is already the biggest producer of Tango mandarins in the Mediterranean and the second biggest worldwide. It is second only to the US, where the variety was patented in 2007 by the University of California, and where the acreage keeps expanding, even though the fruit produced there is not exported to the EU. According to the forecasts, the Tango harvest in Spain will almost double in this 2018/19 campaign compared to the previous season, reaching some 60,000 tons. This represents 83% of the entire Mediterranean production, as well as 57% of the global production, taking into account what was harvested this summer in the southern hemisphere (another 50,000 tons).
While Andalusia was the Spanish region supplying the largest volume of this seedless citrus fruit in 2018, in 2019 this honor will correspond to the Region of Valencia, which will take the lead thanks to the entry into production of new plantations. Thus, Andalusia will contribute 24,000 tons (40%), Valencia another 27,000 tons (45%), Murcia about 8,000 tons and Catalonia 1,000 tons. The distribution of Tang Gold's production (as registered in the EU) has been changing the traditional structure of the Spanish citrus industry, in which Valencia has traditionally played the most important role when it comes to clementine and mandarin production. In the case of the Tango, this leadership is shared with Andalusia. This geographical diversification, in the case of the domestic market, also makes it easier to comply with the "zero kilometer" criteria promoted by the Spanish distribution.
Tango Fruit, the brand of Eurosemillas for the global development of Tango mandarins, has been showcased this year at Fruit Attraction with a differentiating message: "Sustaina-bee-lity". With this play on words between "sustainability" and "bee", Eurosemillas is marketing the variety with a focus on the demands of large European distributors, which have been insisting on the promotion of environmental measures before the consumer and on giving a boost to more ecological production methods, striving to achieve "zero waste".
Unlike most other late mandarins, the Tango doesn't have seeds, and this makes it possible to avoid the use of treatments to remove or kill pollinating insects during the flowering period. This means growers won't be forced to set up expensive meshes to prevent those insects from entering the plantations, or to locate isolated farms in order to prevent cross-pollination, which is what causes seeds to appear.
The result of the bet on Tango is that bees are not affected in any way; thus, the pollination of the fruit trees which do need this improves, and the same applies to the setting (transformation of the flower into fruit). Also, the use of phytoregulators, like insecticides, is reduced, and these can also generate waste. An analysis carried out by Eurosemillas has confirmed that such agronomic virtues make it easier for the Tango to become one of the most profitable mandarin varieties."
A comparative analysis carried out by the technical services of Eurosemillas (comparing protected varieties) has given us a chance to confirm that the Tang Gold is the most profitable late mandarin variety. This is mostly thanks to its lower production costs (saving on the mesh and/or phytosanitary treatments), its faster entry and higher production and its regularity (there are no highs and lows in the production volume). These factors, together with the variety's good prices, allow Tango licensees to recover their initial investment (made for the payment of rights and plant material) earlier. It is also a profitable and attractive mandarin for the exporter and the final distributor, because it meets the consumer demands: it is an easypeeler, the quality is uniform, without ups and downs in terms of color, size, sourness or juice content and it guarantees a regular and continuous supply. This comes at times from the Mediterranean areas (from December) and at other times from the southern hemisphere (from June).
"We wish to highlight our variety's sustainability in both environmental and economic aspects," says Juan José de Dios, director of Tango Fruit. "The Tango has already managed to become a global mandarin, profitable for every link in the chain, and with productions from the two hemispheres complementing one another. We also intend to be the first to show that the market will demand varieties with an added ecological value," says the executive of this brand.
While in the latest edition of Fruit Attraction it was reported that a regular supply of Tango mandarins would be possible for 8 months, now this period is expected to reach almost 10 months. "It is evident that the late varieties from the southern hemisphere are gaining ground on the local early clementines, but similarly, Spanish mandarins such as the Tango will prevail by the end of the season over the clementines from the southern cone. The commercial schedule is simply being adjusted," warns De Dios, who concludes that this can entail "opportunities for the exporters, who can now also work as campaign planners."