As the popularity of mango grows, European consumers expect this fruit to be on supermarket shelves all year round. How can suppliers of a seasonal fruit, whose availability depends on different climate conditions and harvest seasons around the world, live up to this expectation? Guatemala-based DFT Mangos has found a solution: by expanding its production beyond national borders. This family-run mango supplier offers buyers four varieties of fresh mango for an extra-long window of time, along with a steady supply of frozen fruit all year round and an impressive social footprint.
‘The demand came from the market’
Based on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala, DFT Mangos is a family-owned business that has produced Ataúlfo, Tommy Atkins, Kent and Keitt mango varieties since 2000. When it started, DFT Mangos mainly exported their produce to the US market. Over time, European buyers started getting in touch.
Luis Carlos Martinez, General Manager, explains what drew them to Guatemalan mangos: ‘The demand came from the market. Mango is a seasonal fruit, and there is a gap in the market between Peru’s harvest that finishes in February and the May harvest from Mexico and various African countries. Our season is exactly between these two, so DFT Mangos was able to step in and meet that need: providing fresh mangos for European consumers when they aren’t available from the main exporting countries.’
Having become one of the largest mango producers in Guatemala, DFT Mangos decided in 2019 to expand by adding additional mango plantations in Nicaragua. The scale-up has increased the company’s export volumes, and more importantly; lengthened its harvest season. Because Nicaragua lies further south than Guatemala, its mangos are ready to harvest earlier in the year, extending the window of availability for European consumers.
Another step DFT Mango has taken towards meeting consumer demand for this tasty and nutritious fruit is a factory for frozen mango products. ‘We sell frozen mango puree, cubes and cheeks all year round, with our exports divided evenly between the US and EU markets,’ Martinez explains. Building the new plant was one of the best decisions DFT Mangos could have made, he says, especially given the pandemic that broke out at the beginning of 2020. ‘COVID-19 hit right around our harvest time, in February 2020. Because the market slowed down, we had to reduce our fresh fruit exports by 50%. However, our freezing capacity meant we were able to divert the fruit and sell it throughout the rest of the year in frozen form.’
Mangos for motorbikes
For DFT Mangos, having a positive impact on society and the planet is important. Certifications like Global G.A.P. and PrimusGFS highlight the company’s high quality and safety standards. But for Martinez, the firm’s most important impact is on the local community. ‘For fresh mango, we have a full-time staff of 80 people, and we hire up to 600 workers for the harvest. The frozen mango factory has 200 employees’ he says. ‘I am proud that DFT Mangos can offer jobs to so many people, most of whom are women. It has been amazing to see their standard of living improve. I remember that when we started, the women would walk to work from their village; after a few years, they came on bikes, and now we have a parking lot full of motorbikes!’
The commute to work is not the only area in which DFT Mango’s employees have experienced improvement. The firm plays a strong role in the local community, and children’s education is a key part of that. ‘We partner with various local programmes to help children with the supplies they need to go to school. We also offer IT classes in our private laboratories,’ Martinez explains. The staff is also well looked after, with meals, busses to and from the plantations, and on-site medical care. ‘Above all, we want our workers to be happy,’ Martinez say. ‘I think you can tell in our end products that the people here enjoy their job.’
Learn more about DFT Mangos and other reliable Central American suppliers in the Connecting Central America brochure, or get to know them personally by requesting a virtual B2B meeting through the event page. You can also get in touch or find out more via the DFT Mangos website.
DFT Mangos is being promoted by the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) within its the Connecting Central America initiative. This initiative is co-financed by the European Union and coordinated by the Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (SIECA).