Western Australian mango season volatile, prices in flux

West Australian mango season is even more volatile than first thought , according to Australian Outback Mangoes operator Ari Parker. “We are a pack house servicing around 25 growers. The prices of $50-$60 being reported were achievable a couple of weeks ago, but currently average prices are closer to $30 despite supply still being pretty light,” she says. “It’s definitely the second worst season we’ve had since 1986, the five week break between flowering and cropping affected quality.” 

Reports are that the crop out of the region is only half the size it was last year, thanks to a combination of weather, and fruit being downgraded because of its appearance.

The quality issues are only cosmetic, meaning that the fruit itself is fine, but unattractive, Ms Parker says. “Retailers and consumers get put off by the appearance of cavities and the price has been slow to get off the ground this season because of it, and because there hasn’t been any great quantity of fruit with the flowering split.” The price has started to stabilize, according to her, and the uneven ripening times mean some can be kept longer. “We have had the blessing of being able to store fruit for a bit, because it was suitable for that.” 

The location of the Australian Outback Mangoes packhouse, in Kununurra, also meant that the area did not experience the brunt of Tropical Cyclone Olwyn, which tore through the West Australian coast in March. “Within the valley where we are, we can have strong winds, up to 180-200km per hour, but it only lasts a few minutes. Three or four farms were wiped out about 4 years ago, but we can’t actually get full blown cyclones here.”

The strategy for the industry to thrive is to pay more attention to orchard care, and keep up strong communication between growers, packers and retailers, Ms Parker says. “Personally I don’t think we’ll see change until we change orchard management strategy across the industry,” she adds. “We need to get rid of older trees, and consider the fact that the mango tree is a fungal environment ‘lover’ so increasing humidity would help too.”

If orchard management does improve, and those in the business remain during the current weather cycle, there is huge potential for export growth, according to Ms Parker. Demand from overseas for quality Australian mangoes, including countries such as England and France, has far surpassed what the state can supply, Ms Parker says.

For more information
Ari Parker
Australian Outback Mangoes
Phone: +61408984456

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