Under normal circumstances, the Philippines already has an ideal climate for growing mangos. The fruit thrives in warm, tropical conditions without too much of the humidity that can encourage devastating fungal diseases. The Philippines has a dry season that starts to get hot just around the time the trees begin developing (pdf) their flowers and fruit, helping mangoes flourish.
This year, growing conditions were exceptionally good due to an extended spell of hot, dry weather caused by El Niño winds, resulting in a crop of mangos so large farmers are contending with a surplus of some 2 million kg (about 4.4 million pounds). It’s a phenomenon that growers say happens every three or four years. The glut means lower selling prices, and farmers have said there’s currently so much excess fruit that, without help, it will just rot where it is. To assist, the government has stepped in.
Last week, agriculture secretary Manny Piñol announced that an official “Metro Mango” marketing campaign aimed at selling 1 million kg of fresh mangos in Manila through the month of June. At stalls around the city, sellers will peddle a kilogram of mangos for between 20 and 50 Philippine pesos (38 to 96 US cents). By comparison, about a month ago a kilogram of mangos was selling in a grocery store in the Philippines for between 148 and 190 pesos, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (pdf). The Guardian reports that the department of agriculture has additionally launched classes to show people ways to cook with mangoes, and it held a mango festival to get people buying and eating.
The Philippines could, in theory, look to export the fruit. Japanese firm Diamond Star Corp. indicated it would buy about 100,000 kg itself and the government has also said it wants to increase exports to places such as Hong Kong.
Yet the nation’s trade in fresh mangos remains limited, “given poor performance in cold chain management, packaging, and pre-export [sanitary and phytosanitary] treatments, which prevent exporters from complying with standards required by key markets,” Duke University’s center on globalization, governance, and competitiveness wrote in a 2017 report (pdf). The requirements for dried mango are less stringent, and the government is encouraging farmers to “add value” to their exports through processing.
For now, though, there’s a lot of fresh mango to deal with. In some cases, farmers at the epicenter of the mango glut on the island of Luzon are just hanging bags of the fruit for people to take for free.