STORY INLINE POST
The first time I had the great pleasure to get to know what a mango is was many years ago in an exotic fruit shop in a Parisian neighborhood. My Mexican friends told me that this mango did not look at all like a Mexican mango, as it looked green and very small.
Many years later, I had the joy of eating mangoes in Mexico and it was definitely another experience: juicy and delicious with different varieties to choose from.
Many more years later and as director of United Producers of Mexico, we have been researching to improve the quality and consequently the results of exporting exotic fruits to the European market.
The Mango Market in Europe
What makes Europe an interesting market for mangoes?
Mangoes are a popular tropical fruit and consumption is increasing as prices have become more attractive to consumers. Mangoes are usually imported from developing countries. Finding a reliable supply is one of the main problems in maintaining the stability of the mango market.
The mango market is an unpredictable market due to large fluctuations in supply volumes and, currently, also due to changes in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, in the long term, the market continues to grow in size, with fresh mango consumption increasing annually as more mangoes are imported, although it remains a luxury fruit for the consumer.
Overall, consumers are taking a liking to mangoes, mainly thanks to fiber-free mango varieties and improved ripening practices. Still, mango consumption is mostly supply-driven and influenced mainly by external factors, such as available volumes, quality, price and promotion of competing local fruits in Europe, such as mangoes from Spain. For this reason, mango sales are difficult to predict.
Supply volumes and prices in the short term can be volatile, but with increasing global volumes, mangoes with affordable prices become more accessible to European consumers.
It is important to emphasize that in order to export mangoes to the European market, it is essential to understand the EU regulations, as they are different from the requirements for exporting mangoes to the neighboring US market. The permitted pesticides are different, the hydrothermal treatment is different, the logistics are different, the customers belong to different cultures and have different practices in the negotiation process and certifications for production and packaging. Before exporting, it is necessary to know and implement the appropriate protocols specifically for sending mangoes to this market.
The European Union has 450 million inhabitants from 27 countries, each with its own culture and customs. Europe in total has more than 700 million inhabitants, including the European countries outside the European Union. The level of mango consumption is different per country, depending on consumption habits. Mangoes are imported via two logistics formats: air and sea. Tree-ripened mangoes are imported by air, and are for buyers with demanding customers who are willing to pay a premium price for both conventional and organic mangoes. The largest volume of mangoes is imported by sea from a wide variety of origins, mainly Latin America and Africa. Every year, the requirements of European supermarkets become stricter, due to the sustainable practices demanded by the European Union. As a consequence, more and more supermarkets are deciding not to buy fruit by air, due to the high carbon footprint it generates.
Distribution Channels in Europe
As an exporter, it is important to know the distribution structure of the market, in order to be able to define in which sector of the chain the exportable mango needs to be placed.
The main buyers are:
- Specialty shops
- Spot market
To have a complete understanding of the consumer price distribution in the chain from exporter to supermarket, we can see in the table below the difference in logistics costs for air and sea freight.
Changes in Sales Channels
A general change has been observed among buyers in recent years. Previously, supermarkets relied on importers for their supply of mangoes and did not buy directly from producers at their respective origins. Supermarkets are now more actively seeking to buy at origin and preferably directly from organizations or companies that grow mangoes. To be able to sell directly to the supermarket, it is necessary to have solid experience of exporting to the European market, and to have already implemented the precise protocols for excellent arrivals. Depending on the agreements on payment conditions with the supermarket buyers, it can be a good opportunity for the exporter to make a higher profit.
Even more volume is purchased by the established importers, who act both as distribution centers for their supermarket customers and as ripening centers for the ready-to-eat sector. Many of the importers establish seasonal programs with their suppliers, agreeing INCOterms and payment terms. It is always necessary to have a formal document for quotations where agreements with the buyer are made specifically to define at what point the responsibility of each party ends and at what point payments are made.
The spot market is a market of opportunity for those who know very well the high and low trends of fruit availability and consequently the prices of the moment.
The distribution channels are summarized in the following graph and it is important to know who buys the mango and what the processes are before the route reaches the consumer. Each part of this chain fulfills a function, and has a process that has a cost.
Risks of Exporting Mangoes to Europe
All perishable export processes carry risk. Being part of a supply program to a supermarket chain can offer the greatest security and, on average, more profitable margins. However, the requirements are high and the scope for negotiation is minimal.
The most likely route to being part of a supermarket sales program is to cooperate with a service provider that has a local infrastructure and supply contracts with retailers. Selling directly to supermarkets is much more difficult and is only available to companies that have the resources to have a presence in Europe and can organize a period or year-round supply.
Requirements for Exporting to Europe
Exporting fresh fruit and vegetables to Europe requires high standards of food safety and quality. Socially and environmentally responsible behavior has also become a precondition for doing business, and buyers often ask for certifications as a guarantee. To avoid health and environmental risks, the European Union has set maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides in foodstuffs. Products containing more pesticides than allowed will be withdrawn from the European market. MRLs may become stricter with new knowledge from European food safety authorities.
It should be noted that purchasers in several member states, such as the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, use stricter MRLs than those set out in European legislation. Supermarket chains apply the strictest standards and typically require between 33% and 100% of the legal MRL. The German discount chain Lidl is one of the strictest, with a limit of 33% of the EU legal standard for single active substances.
As an exporter, it is important to pay attention to quality. If the exporter is not sure about the product, it is better not to export it and look for local alternatives. If it is decided to ship the mango anyway, it is necessary to be transparent about the quality and discuss this issue beforehand with the buyer.
Check which standards apply to your product and make sure that your products and the necessary documentation are in order. Filling in your export details in, check the Codex Alimentarius published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to find additional marketing standards for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Labeling and Packaging
Food marketed in the EU must comply with food labeling legislation. Commercial packages and cartons of fresh fruit or vegetables must bear the correct information, according to European guidelines.
To ensure acceptable levels of traceability in phytosanitary, sustainable and social practices in the country of origin, buyers in Europe require different certifications. While the type of certification required still differs between countries, in general terms, buyers from northern European countries require the following certifications:rganic + Global Gap + Social
In the near future, new environmental and social initiatives are to be expected, with increasing standards and regular audits. For example, the Sustainable Fruit and Vegetable Trade Initiative (SIFAV), a private pact between European importers and retailers, has formulated new targets toward 2025, including a fair living wage and carbon footprint reduction.
Are you ready to set yourself up for success in 2024? Join us at Mexico Business Summit 2023, the must-attend B2B conference for Mexico’s business leaders!
Taking place on Nov. 28-30, 2023, at Expo Santa Fe in Mexico City, this high-level multi-industry conference offers unmatched opportunities to get inside perspectives on key industry trends, access actionable business intelligence, generate pre-qualified leads and identify new opportunities in a unique cross-industry networking environment.
Mexico Business News offers you an exclusive MX$2,000 ticket discount by using this code: MBS2023MBN2000.