Exporting mangoes to Europe
Since 2013, the European market for mangoes has exhibited an upward trend. Diversification in varieties and ripening techniques are becoming increasingly interesting to the retail sector. Retailers seek to satisfy the more demanding customer and to optimise supply chains. The experience and large customer base of specialised importers offer many opportunities, as does the cooperation in large retail programmes. Within these opportunities, you will encounter demanding requirements in terms of certification and quality.
Contents of this page
- Product definition
- Which European markets offer opportunities for mango exporters?
- Which trends offer opportunities on the European mango market?
- With which requirements must fresh mangoes comply to be allowed on the European market?
- Which additional requirements do buyers often have?
- What do niche markets require?
- Which competition will you be facing on the European mango market?
- Which trade channels can you use to put fresh mangoes on the European market?
- What are the end-market prices for mangoes?
Mango (Mangifera indica) trees are cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Important varieties and hybrids for the European market include:
- Keitt (no fibre, productive)
- Kent (no fibre)
- Osteen (essentially the only variety of mangoes grown in Europe)
- Palmer (minimal fibre)
- Tommy Atkins (long shelf life, fibrous but declining interest)
Minor varieties include:
- Nam Dok Mai (exotic)
The fibreless varieties are mostly in demand (also for freshly cut and packaged fruit). Customer preferences for mangoes with red or green skin differ across European countries.
Table1: CN commodity code for fresh or dried guavas, mangoes and mangosteen
|08045000||Fresh or dried guavas, mangoes and mangosteen|
Source: Eurostat Comext
Mangoes are divided into three classes: Extra Class, Class I and Class II. Information on the quality requirements for each class can be found in:
- The standard for mangoes in the Codex Alimentarius, the ‘food code’ of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
- The standard for mangoes of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
- The General Marketing Standards of Regulation (EC) No. 543/2011.
At the very least, mangoes should be:
- clean, free from visible foreign matter
- sound (fresh and firm)
- free from pests
- free from damage caused by pests or low temperatures
- free from marked bruising
- free from abnormal external moisture
- free from black necrotic stains and trails
- free from any foreign smell or taste.
The development and condition should be such that the mangoes:
- are able to withstand transport and handling
- are ensured a continuation of the maturation process
- arrive in satisfactory condition at their destination.
Size and packaging
Fresh mangoes are classified according to Size Codes A–D. The sizes most in demand in the European market are 500–650 grams (sizes B and C).
Weight in grams
Maximum difference between the fruit, in grams
Packaging requirements differ by customer and market segment. Mangoes must be packed in new, clean, high-quality packaging that ensures proper protection for the produce while preventing damage to it. Talk to your customers about their requirements and preferences concerning packaging. The most common packaging characteristics in Europe include the following.
- Wholesale packaging in cardboard boxes or crates: 4 kilograms (most common in sea freight) up to 6 kg (air freight).
- Mangoes are sensitive to pressure, so to prevent quality loss, mangoes should be packed in single layers and preferably padded or wrapped.
See also the FAO’s Recommended International Code of Practice for Packaging and Transport of Tropical Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (CAC/RCP 44-1995), which includes guidelines for proper packaging and transport in order to ensure that the produce is delivered in good condition.
Consumer package labelling must be in accordance with the rules and regulations applicable in the European market. Labels may not contain any toxic ink or glue. See also the:
- Codex General Standard for the Labelling of Pre-Packaged Foods
- Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food labelling and information to consumers.
If the nature of the produce is not visible from the outside, the package must be labelled with the name of the product, and the name or any optional name of the variety and/or its commercial name.
Labels or marking for fresh fruit and pre-packed fresh fruit should provide the following information:
- packer and/or dispatcher/shipper
- name and physical address (street/city/region/postal code/country) or a code mark officially recognised by the national authority
- product name ‘Mangoes’ if the contents are not visible from the outside and name of the variety
- country of origin and, optionally, district/region/place
- commercial specifications, i.e. class, size (code), number of units and net weight
- official control mark (optional).
In addition, the label should include any certification logo (if applicable) and/or retailer logo (in the case of private-label products).
For more information on labelling, packaging and quality, see also the marketing standards above or read about food labelling in the EU Trade Helpdesk.
General information and figures about production and trade developments in the European market are provided at the CBI Market Intelligence Platform. This section provides information on the trade and the consumption of mangoes in Europe.
NOTE: In the trade statistics, mangoes constitute the vast majority of a broader product group, which also includes guavas and mangosteens. The following trade figures are accurate, but also include a small share of guavas and mangosteen.
Developing countries are supplying more mangoes to Europe
Europe imports the majority of its mangoes from developing countries (see Figure 1). Between 2013 and 2017, European imports of mangoes (including mangosteen and guavas) from developing countries increased from €461 million to €737 million. The remaining supply from other non-European countries originates mainly in Israel and the United States, and is complemented with European-produced mangoes from Spain. Although the market for mangoes in Europe is growing, importers and retailers have a wide range of choice regarding suppliers.
Mangoes are becoming a more valuable fruit
In the past three years (2015-2017), the import value per tonne was higher than in the years before. This indicates that average mango prices have increased. This growth can also be explained by the import of new, more valuable varieties, a higher share of air-freighted mangoes or fluctuation in availability.
The Netherlands is Europe’s largest mango importer
In Europe, the leading importing country of fresh mangoes from non-European suppliers is the Netherlands, followed by Germany and the United Kingdom. In 2017, the Netherlands was responsible for almost 28% of Europe’s mango imports. The above countries are important markets for suppliers from developing countries such as Brazil, Peru and also increasingly from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, the Dominican Republic and Senegal.
The Netherlands is the main supplier for Germany
The Netherlands (and to a lesser extent Spain and Belgium) is an important trade hub for fresh mangoes (see Figure 3). About 47% of the mangoes re-exported by the Netherlands are destined for Germany. The rest is distributed all over Europe and beyond. Belgium’s principal market is France. Spanish exports, which include Spanish mangoes, are mainly directed to France and Portugal.
- If you would like to export to several countries in the European market, use the established trade routes and find an importing partner in the Netherlands or Belgium.
Important destinations in the west, emerging importers in the east
The United Kingdom, Germany and France are important destination countries for mangoes, either directly sourced from origin or re-exported by trade hubs such as the Netherlands. The consumption in Eastern European countries is much lower, but shows significant growth in countries such as Poland and Romania. These countries are still mainly supplied by established importers in Western Europe.
Spain is the only significant European producer of mangoes
In Europe, Spain is the only country with significant commercial production of mangoes. In the past years, Spain produced an estimated 22,000 to 24,000 tonnes of mangoes (mangosteens). The latest harvest in 2018 is thought to reach 30,000 tonnes, a record for Spanish mango growers.
When mangoes are in season (mid-August to November), it becomes harder to compete on the Spanish market. Mangoes from Spain are usually more expensive than mass sea-freighted mangoes and positioned in the same segment as ripened, flown-in mangoes. Spanish consumers often prefer the locally cultivated mangoes over the sea-freighted mangoes because of their superior taste.
Outside the mango season there are opportunities for mangoes from developing countries if these suit the quality and taste requirements. In the rest of Europe you can find opportunities to supply mangoes year round.
- Find information about the current situation of the mango market, such as the overview of the global mango market on Freshplaza.
Information on general trends in the European market for fresh fruits and vegetables is available in CBI Trend mapping. This section provides additional details about specific trends in the fresh mangoes market.
Ready-to-eat has gained great popularity
Ready-to-eat mangoes (or ripened mangoes) have become a major part of retail demand in recent years. The ripening process has been perfected in northern Europe and contributes to consumption growth there. European countries in other regions are expected to follow the same trend.
Ready-to-eat provides a guarantee to consumers and limits the amount of fruit that supermarkets are forced to discard, as customers do not have to press the fruit to feel whether it is ripe. Ready-to-eat mangoes are more often shipped by sea, which facilitates sourcing and promotion planning.
Mango ripening is performed by several importing companies. The Keitt and Kent varieties of mangoes are most suitable because of the specific transport and ripening conditions required.
- Work only with capable importers with proven capabilities. Ready-to-eat fruit requires excellent post-harvest management, logistical planning, ripening facilities and good varieties.
- Ensure that your harvest and cold chain are perfectly managed. This is crucial to achieving the level of quality that is expected by ripening companies and retailers in Europe.
- Ensure the homogeneous internal maturity of the fruit. This is extremely important, and it requires additional attention to harvest planning and post-harvest treatment, especially when working with larger numbers of growers.
Consumers are looking for convenience fruit
Mangoes are increasingly sold as freshly cut fruit (mostly in individual sizes), frozen (IQF), dried or in pulp or fresh juices. These semi-processed options provide an easy way for consumers to enjoy mangoes. As an exporter you can add value by semi-processing mangoes or supplying mangoes that are not fit for the fresh market to the processing industry. However, competitiveness, certified processing and excellent logistics are crucial conditions. See also the CBI market intelligence report on processed fruit and vegetables.
Tendency towards more varieties
For quite some time, European countries were mainly supplied with a few well-known varieties of mangoes such as Amélie, Tommy Atkins and Kent. In recent years, new varieties such as Keitt and more exotic varieties such as Nam Doc Mai have arrived on the market. Consumers have embraced this diversification because the new varieties offer better taste and sweetness and are fibreless. In general, you will see retailers shifting away from fibrous mangoes as consumers prefer easy-to-slice mangoes, especially in Western Europe. The Kent, Keitt and Palmer varieties often replace the fibrous Tommy Atkins mangoes. In Eastern Europe, price is more of an issue and there is still some demand for Tommy Atkins mangoes.
Taste and consumer experience are key factors for success
In addition to colour and appearance, taste is very important. In southern Europe taste and the sweetness of the ripe fruit have always been important for consumption. But in many other countries, people are also learning to appreciate taste and now prefer to spend more on a high-quality product. Countries such as France, Spain and Switzerland offer interesting markets for air-freighted, tree-ripened mango.
- Experiment and try to find mango varieties that suit European demand. Also discuss with your buyer when mangoes are in demand, which variety and quality they require.
- Make sure that supply-chain logistics and transportation do not affect product flavour in any significant way.
Growing interest in sustainable fruit
In Europe, trends are developing towards more sustainable approaches to production and processing of fresh fruit. Environmental and social issues are becoming increasingly important. Social and environmental certification schemes include actions aimed at sharply reducing and registering the use of pesticides, ensuring employee safety and/or even including price guarantees for producers.
Certification schemes that are in line with the Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP) are more likely to be accepted by European supermarkets.
- Consult the Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP) website for more information about social and environmental conduct.
Opportunities for organic mangoes
The increased attention to health and the environment is also generating interest in organically produced fruits and vegetables. The organic segment in Europe is increasing annually. Scandinavian countries and Germany in particular are purchasing much more organic produce, which also provides opportunities for organic mangoes.
Buyer requirements can be divided into
(1) musts (requirements you must meet in order to enter the market), such as legal requirements,
(2) common requirements (which are those most of your competitors have already implemented), the ones you need to comply with in order to keep up with the market, and
(3) niche market requirements, for specific segments.
The food safety requirements for fresh mangoes are the same as for other fresh fruit and vegetables. You can find a complete overview in and at the:
- general buyer requirements for fresh fruit and vegetables
- Trade Helpdesk that provides an overview of export requirements for fresh mangoes (codes 08045000) per country.
With which legal and non-legal requirements must your product comply?
Minimise pesticide residues
Pesticide residues constitute a crucial issue for suppliers of fruits and vegetables. With the aim of avoiding health and environmental damage, the European Union has set maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides in and on food products. Products containing more pesticides than allowed are withdrawn from the European market.
Note that buyers in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria set MRLs that are stricter than those specified in European legislation.
- Find which MRLs are relevant for fresh mangoes by consulting the European MRL database in which all harmonised MRLs can be found. You can search for your product or the pesticide used. The database has a list of the MRLs associated with your product or pesticide.
- Reduce the amount of pesticides by applying integrated pest management (IPM) in production. IPM is an agricultural pest control strategy that includes growing practices and chemical management.
- Read more about MRLs on the European Commission website on food safety. Check with your buyers if they have any additional requirements regarding MRLs and pesticide use.
Comply with phytosanitary requirements
Fruit and vegetables exported to the European Union must comply with European legislation on plant health. The European Commission has laid down phytosanitary requirements to prevent introduction and spread of organisms harmful to plants and plant products in Europe. These requirements are managed by the competent food safety authorities in the importing and exporting countries.
- Verify with the national plant protection organisation or food safety authority in your country if and under which conditions you can export fresh mangoes to Europe. These authorities normally work with international standards, but always check with your buyer as well.
GlobalG.A.P. and other certification as guarantee
Since food safety is a top priority in all European food sectors, you can expect most buyers to request extra guarantees from you in the shape of certification.
The most commonly requested certification for fresh mangoes is GLOBALG.A.P., a pre-farm-gate standard that covers the whole agricultural production process, from before the plant is in the ground to the non-processed product (processing is not covered). Whether GLOBALG.A.P. is required also depends on the destination country, market conditions and market channel. For example, it has become nearly impossible to supply northern Europe without GLOBALG.A.P., since it is a standard requirement for most supermarkets.
Examples of other food safety management systems that can be required are:
- British Retail Consortium (BRC)
- International Food Standard (IFS)
- Food Safety System Certification (FSS22000)
- Safe Quality Food Programme (SQF).
These management systems are supplemental to GLOBALG.A.P. and are recognised by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).
- Identify the food-safety management systems that are usually requested in your target market. Expect GLOBALG.A.P. to be one of them.
- Read more on the various food-safety management systems at the Standards Map.
- Always remember that food safety is a major issue. Work proactively with buyers to improve food safety, be transparent and remain up to date with regard to buyer requirements and regulations.
Growing demand for organic mangoes
An increasing number of European consumers prefer food products that are produced and processed using natural methods. The market for organic mangoes is much smaller than the conventional market, but the demand is growing and supply is limited. In order to market organic products in the European Union, you must use organic production methods according to European legislation. Furthermore, you have to use these production methods for at least two years before you can market your fresh mangoes as organic.
In addition, you (or your European importer) must apply for an import authorisation from organic control bodies. After being audited by an accredited certifier, you may put the EU organic logo on your products, as well as the logo of the standard holder, for example:
- Soil Association (especially relevant in the United Kingdom)
- Naturland (Germany)
- Bio Suisse (Switzerland).
Some of these standards differ slightly, but they all comply with the European legislation on organic production and labelling.
- Implementing organic production and becoming certified can be expensive, so assess the market potential before making any investments.
- Consult the Standards Map database for information about the various organic certifications.
- For the export of organic mangoes into the European market, use a specialised importer, who understands the market and has good access to clients that purchase organic fruit. Use, for example, the Organic-Bio database.
Fair and sustainable
There is growing attention for the social and/or environmental conditions in the producing areas. Most European buyers have a code of conduct which they will expect you to adhere to. For fresh mangoes social compliance is important and a must for most large retailers, although in day-to-day trade product quality has top priority.
Implementing GRASP provides you with a good basic social certification. GRASP is part of GLOBALG.A.P. and gaining in importance.
Another good option is implementing standards recognised by the Sustainability Initiative Fruit and Vegetables (SIFAV). This comprises an initiative from traders and retailers to become 100% sustainable in sourcing from Latin America, Africa and Asia by 2020.
A few specialised buyers provide extra opportunities for socially certified products. They use certification schemes such as Fair for Life or Fairtrade. In general Fair Trade certification is losing importance in Europe.
- For a complete overview of buyer initiatives for social compliance, see the buyer requirements for fresh fruit and vegetables on the CBI marketing intelligence platform.
- Examine your company’s current performance, for example by completing a self-assessment of the Business Social Compliance Initiative on the amfori/BSCI website.
- Consult the Standards Map database for additional information and to learn about differences between fair-trade labels.
For general information about market competition for fresh fruits and vegetables, consult the Market Competition information available at the CBI market intelligence platform. The platform also includes Tips for doing business with European buyers. This section details market-entry opportunities and barriers relating to mangoes, as well as information concerning competition at the company and product levels.
Worldwide mango production is increasing, and rivalry is generally very strong. Temporary shortfalls in supply or demand (for example due to drought) can have considerable impact on prices.
India and China are the main producers, Brazil and Peru are the main suppliers to Europe
The major mango-producing countries in the world are India and China, representing half of the worldwide production. India and China primarily produce for their domestic markets. India exported €12.7 million worth of mangoes to Europe in 2017, but the greatest share of the European demand for mangoes is supplied by other producing countries.
Brazil and Peru are Europe’s main trading partners for mangoes
In 2017, Brazil and Peru together were responsible for almost half of the European import value, while the remaining imports came from various producing countries:
- Latin America: Dominican Republic, Costa Rico, Mexico and Ecuador
- West Africa: Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Gambia
- Asia & Middle East: Israel, Pakistan, India and Thailand
Latin America leads the supply of mangoes, but other countries such as Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal show strong growth as well. These countries’ export values totalled between €20 million and €50 million in 2017. European buyers show interest in sourcing from West Africa, but also increasingly mention quality and logistics as critical issues.
Supply planning is important to be competitive
The market for fresh mangoes is mature, but still challenging in supply planning. New producers should have a clear alignment with destinations and their requirements, price development throughout the year and awareness of competing production countries (see the supply calendar in Figure 5). This is crucial for your preparation, but will also improve your reputation as a serious supplier.
Differences in varieties and supply seasons
Between May and November, the European market is mainly supplied by Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire and Israel. Brazil produces the Keitt, Kent and Tommy Atkins varieties, and its production of Palmer mangoes is increasing. Peru steps in during the European winter, mainly supplying Kent mangoes, alongside other smaller varieties such as Haden and Ataulfo. There is also a niche market for special varieties, such as the Nan Dok Mai from Thailand/Vietnam and the Alphonso from India.
Closing the gap
European traders try to organise year-round supply. The weak points are usually the beginning or ending of seasons when the fruit quality is not optimal for ripening or at risk of being overripe. These traders are open to alternative suppliers, creating opportunities for exporters that are able to supply good quality mangoes when other countries cannot.
Figure 5: Supply calendar (indicative)
Certification and the need to meet both legal and non-legal requirements pose major obstacles to producers and exporters entering the market. Despite the large number of producing countries, only exporters who are able to offer the right quality will be able to enter markets as new competitors.
The buying power of large retail chains is strong, particularly in the supermarket channel. Supermarkets demand uniform quantity, relatively large volumes and primarily sea-freighted mangoes. For mangoes, ready-to-eat quality and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are becoming increasingly important, as well as supply-chain transparency and information sharing. Buyers in Europe prefer long-term partnerships as a means of ensuring the supply and quality of products.
In southern European countries, street markets and specialist shops are important besides the supermarket segment. They demand smaller volumes of mangoes. Although the buyer power of smaller shops is weaker, these customers have a wide range of choices between different suppliers.
- Try not to compete on price alone, but build partnerships with buyers/ripening facilities and strive for excellence in product quality and handling instead.
- Establish a credible track record of providing transparent information on your company and product quality. Being part of a stable partnership and a trustworthy supplier can help you to establish and maintain your position in the market.
- Use storytelling (for example, highlight the origin and producer of your products), novel packaging and premium quality as methods for distinguishing your product from the rest of the field. Ready-to-eat mangoes are becoming increasingly popular, but they require excellent logistical processes.
The diversity of fruits supplied to the European market has increased in the past decade, thereby increasing competition for mangoes. If the mango prices are very high, consumers are more likely to buy other tropical fruits. In Europe, the abundantly available stone fruits such as peaches and nectarines are potential substitutes during the summer months.
For general information about market channels and segments, consult the Market Channels and Segments document available at the CBI market intelligence platform. This section provides information about the various channels through which fresh fruit and vegetables are marketed in Europe.
Supermarket versus specialist retailers
Most mangoes are sold in retail settings, with lower sales through food service channels. It is important to distinguish between the supermarket channel and the specialist retail channel, which includes physical shops and street markets. Supermarkets are dominant in north-western Europe, while specialised retail is more important in southern Europe.
- Enter the north-western European market by participating in major retail programmes. Contact an experienced importer/distributor before entering the European market.
Ready-to-eat mangoes through specialised trade channels
Supermarkets are increasingly demanding ready-to-eat mangoes, which are ripened in their countries of destination. Northern European countries such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany initiated the trend of ready-to-eat mangoes. These mangoes are often traded through specialised importers/re-exporters that have experience with logistics and ripening of delicate tropical produce.
Ready-to-eat mangoes require excellent quality control. Importers subsequently demand containers of mangoes that are of uniform quality and ripeness, taking into account the time needed for transport and ripening.
- Find an importer with the proper ripening facilities, customer network and market knowledge.
- Work with trusted partners or with intermediary shipping or forwarding companies in order to reduce the risk of diminished product quality.
Tree-ripened mangoes are also a specialty that is often found in specialised shops and high-end retailers. Tree-ripened mangoes are popular because of their superior taste. These mangoes are air-freighted and find their way into markets with a preference for taste and quality.
In southern Europe, such as in Spain, taste and sweetness are important selling points for mangoes. In higher income countries, for example Scandinavian countries, consumers are often prepared to pay more for high quality and well-ripened mangoes.
- Make sure to distinguish in packaging or branding when supplying superior quality such as tree-ripened mangoes.
Processing has become a relevant trade channel for mangoes
The increasing attention for freshly cut, dried and frozen mangoes has turned fruit processors into a valuable actors in the mango supply chain. For mango producing countries where logistics are not optimal, such as Mali, processing is also a good solution to realise exports. The fresh fruit industry expects these basic processing market segments to become more relevant in the future.
Figure 6: Breakdown of consumer prices for mangoes (indicative for sea freight)
Added value and quality increase consumer prices
Consumer prices for mangoes fluctuate according to season and availability. Supermarkets sell regular mangoes for prices ranging between €1.50 and €2. Smaller, higher-quality mangoes are sold for similar prices, making them relatively more expensive. Air-transported, freshly cut and organic mangoes can easily reach prices of €3 apiece.
- Find wholesale and trade prices by consulting your contacts in Europe (build a network!) or look on websites such as France Agrimer.
- For consumer prices, consult the online shops or supermarket chain ranges. Good options include Tesco, Albert Heijn (search for ‘mango’) and Carrefour (search for ‘mangue’).
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