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Mangoes win favour in US


Premium Australian-grown Honey Gold mangoes produced by Piñata Farms have won new fans in the United States after being exported there for the first time during the 2015-2016 mango season.

Fresh Honey Gold mangoes ready to be exported

Three shipments of Honey Gold mangoes were included in the Australian mango industry's export program following the establishment of a protocol allowing Australian mangoes into the US. The agreement followed more than seven years of bilateral negotiations between the US and Australian governments.

Piñata Farms managing director and Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA) chairman, Gavin Scurr, said Honey Gold mangoes comprised approximately 15 per cent of the 13,000 trays of Australian mangoes exported during the season.

"The trade arrangement came into effect late in the 2014-2015 season - too late for Honey Gold mangoes - so this was the first full season Australian mango producers had access to the US market," Mr Scurr said.

Queensland-grown mangoes hit the mark

Third-party growers in North Queensland's Bowen and Mareeba districts produced the exported Honey Gold mangoes.

"Piñata Farms has an exclusive arrangement with importer, Melissa's, which distributes and markets premium and unique fruit lines across the US. We've had enquiries from many other importers because of the Honey Gold's flavour profile and reputation but we're committed to Melissa's because of the marketing opportunities provided."

"Our Queensland-grown Honey Gold mangoes were shipped to Los Angeles and distributed as far afield as New York. Most were sold in Texas and the rest in California where they received an excellent reception from retailers and consumers."

Mr Scurr said until now, mangoes available in the US came from Central and South America and lacked the quality eating experience Australian mangoes were known for.

He said the Honey Gold mangoes were sold in supermarkets alongside other Australian mangoes and independently. Promotions included tastings, demonstrations and in-store displays.

Agreement a boost for producers

Within three days of being picked on Queensland farms, the Honey Gold mangoes arrived in the US, he said.

Mr Scurr said the agreement was a boost for Australian mango producers as the export program prevented a glut onshore and kept domestic prices sustainable.

Piñata Farms and some 40 third-party growers produce Honey Gold mangoes exclusively in five states between November and March. In total, approximately 150,000 Honey Gold mango trees are under cultivation on some 500 hectares.

Piñata Farms, which has been exporting mangoes since 2009, also currently exports Honey Gold mangoes to New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. The US consignments made up about 10 per cent of its total export program, he said.

Mr Scurr said Piñata Farms would focus on expanding its existing markets in the future, rather than seeking new markets, especially as the mangoes were fetching a premium domestically.

Season wraps up with solid results

Honey Gold mango season is in its final weeks with growers in New South Wales and Victoria due to pick the last fruit by mid-March.

Mr Scurr said he was confident the 2015-2016 crop had achieved the volume targets predicted at the start of the season - a 30 per cent increase on average production season. That was despite a small percentage of the crop being affected by poor flowering and early season hail storms, he said.

Piñata Farms would increase plantings at its own farms with 17,000 trees at Darwin and 3,000 trees at Katherine in the Northern Territory for production in about three years, he said.

Third-party farms at Mareeba also increased plantings by some 4,000 trees in late 2015.

Honey Gold mangoes are available at leading supermarkets and independent retail outlets nationally between November and March.