Last October, mango producers in Andalucia (Spain) met and discussed abandoning cultivation due to the low prices imposed by distribution chains, which, they claimed, meant that between 70 and 80 percent were purchased below what they considered worthy, hiding behind that did not meet caliber standards.
The provincial secretary of the COAG agrarian organization in Málaga, Antonio Rodríguez, maintained that “the prices have fallen so much that in many cases they have had to leave them (the mangoes) lying in the fields and this takes away a very important business in the province, focused above all in La Axarquía”.
He added that it is “a very social sector, from which many people live, not only producing, but also handling”.
Chains decided to pay below price without taking quality into account
He also explained that given the size of the product–less than in other seasons–the chains decided to “pay below price without taking quality into account”.
“We are facing a paradigm shift; everything cannot be as if it were a homogeneous fruit of 400 or 500 grams and everything is perfect, because the field is not like that,” Rodrguez emphasized.
A kilogram of mango has dropped from €1.2 or €1.3, or even more, to about 20 cents if the piece does not weigh 350 grams or more, according to COAG, which recently held a meeting with farmers in this sector with the agricultural organization UPA.
He regrets that, at the same time that mangoes were not picked, the same product was entering Spain from Brazil and other countries, to which he defends giving priority to local produce while urging governments to act.
“If the sector does not support us and administrations prefer that produce continues to enter from abroad rather than value ours, we will consider whether to continue and all will go to unemployment,” he said.
According to COAG, 4,800 hectares were planted in 2021, the majority of which were in the province of Malaga, and 31,915 tons were produced.
The area planted with mangoes grew by 6% and production by 13% in 2021
The total area devoted to mango cultivation in Andalusia increased by 6% during the 2021 campaign, to 4,800 hectares. Of these, 4,356 are in production, accounting for 91% of the total area, with annual growth of 2%. Production, at 31,915 tons (t), increased by 13% over the previous season, while the value of production, at 32.55 million euros, decreased by 19%, owing primarily to a drop in the average price at origin, given that a good price was obtained in 2020.
Mango has become the second most economically important subtropical crop in Spain after avocado.
Lower price levels
Prices have remained lower than in previous campaigns, with an average final campaign price of €1.02/kg, a 13% decrease from the average of the five previous campaigns. Despite the difference in market segments, overseas mango prices, particularly the Brazilian one, whose campaign coincides with the Andalusian one, have pushed downwards despite the difference in market segments between them.
Exports, which include both Andalusian production and imports, increased once more in 2021, reaching 32,240 t for a total value of €50.28 million. The highest concentration occurs during the months of September and October, when the Andalusian mango is at its peak. Portugal is the most popular destination (36%), followed by France and Germany (22% each). In terms of economic value, France leads the parade with 32%, followed by Portugal (28%), and Germany (22%).
According to the report by Council for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development — Consejería de Agricultura, Ganadería Pesca y Desarrollo Sostenible (CAGPDS) — imports maintain a volume similar to the previous campaign, around 10.000 t, while the economic value of the same drops by 8%, with an import value of 11.416 million euros. The main suppliers are Brazil (59% volume and 48% economic value) and Peru (18% volume and 27% economic value).
When ripe, the majority of varieties grown in Andalusia have red skin with orange to purple tones to varying degrees. The most important are the ‘Osteen,’ the dominant variety, with a 78% share of marketed production in 2021, followed by the ‘Keitt,’ with a 17% share.
Mangoes all over the world
The global mango cultivated area is 5.52 million hectares, with a production of 54.8 million tons. The Asian continent is home to the three major producers. 56% of the world’s surface is cultivated by India, China, and Pakistan.
However, the free market decides, and while farmers face difficult conditions, it is unthinkable that prices be compensated with state support, nor that private entities (wholesalers, supermarkets and retail chains) be barred from importing or purchasing at fixed prices that are not market-driven.