National Mango Board Conducts a Ripe/Ready to Eat Mangos Workshop

Marketers and ripening experts share their success with implementing ripening programs and the board approves a pilot study

Orlando, Fla. (Feb. 3, 2012) – The National Mango Board (NMB) held a Ripe/Ready to Eat Mangos Workshop on Nov. 14, 2011, to inform their board members about the benefits of creating and implementing a ripening program. Marketers and ripening specialists Dennis Kihlstadius, Dave Howald, Gary Campisi and Michael Chirico were invited to the meeting to share and discuss their experience, success and expertise on the process and impact of fruit ripening.

The Ripe/Ready to Eat Mangos initiative is to provide U.S. consumers better quality mangos that are ready for consumption when purchased at retail. The NMB welcomed valuable perspectives from all levels of the supply chain at the workshop. It was important for board members to gain an understanding of how a ripening program impacts each level of the supply chain. William Watson, Executive Director of the NMB, said, “This program could change the mango industry, but for the betterment of the product consumers are buying every day.”

Dennis Kihlstadius, owner of Produce Technical Service and one of the presenters at the workshop, provided a strong fundamental overview about the opportunities available to improve post harvest processes and increase the quality of mangos. He has extensive experience in post harvest handling of climacteric fruit and has worked in implementing ripening programs with commodity boards, such as the California Avocado Commission (CAC), California Pear Advisory Board (CPAB) and Pear Bureau Northwest.

Dave Howald, a merchandiser and avocado-ripening specialist for CAC, also worked with Kihlstadius on the ripening program at CAC. He has been with the CAC for 19 years and has worked with retailers and wholesalers across the U.S. to develop and implement in-house ripening programs. The program proved effective and beneficial for the board as avocado sales continue to increase. “Shoppers prefer ripe avocados and purchase them over firm fruit by a margin of as much as four to one,” said Howald.

Michael Chirico, a wholesale distributor, has also worked for CAC in the past. Currently, he owns a warehouse where he receives shipments of produce and provides more value and quality to consumers by ripening the fruit. Chirico has been in the produce industry for 34 years, since he was 11 years old, helping his family with their wholesale company. He is very passionate about the produce industry and the benefits that a ripening program could have for the NMB, especially for mango producers.

Gary Campisi, Senior Director of Quality Control for Wal-Mart, has also been in the produce industry for more than 30 years. His first position began with developing a quality control program for Wal-Mart’s first grocery distribution center in Clarksville, Arkansas. Campisi has experience in banana and avocado ripening.

The NMB is grateful for the knowledge shared by the experts. The Board approved the Ripe/Ready to Eat Research Project at the Board meeting in November. The objective is to determine the impact of a mango ripening program on mango consumption and to assess the technical feasibility of implementing the program. If the research presents a positive impact, the NMB will continue with the research.

About National Mango Board
The National Mango Board is a national promotion and research organization, which is supported by assessments from both domestic and imported mangos. The board was designed to drive awareness and consumption of fresh mangos in the U.S. One cup of mango is only 100 calories, an excellent source of vitamins A and C, a good source of fiber and an amazing source of tropical flavor.
Mango availability per capita has quadrupled since 1990 to an estimated 2.24 pounds per year in 2010.  Mango import volume for 2010 was 770 million pounds.  Learn more at www.mango.org.

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