If there’s anyone who can tell you about opportunities and challenges in exporting West African dried mango products, it’s Aleksandar Jovanovic. He is an international export marketing consultant for Autentika Global, specialising in, among other things, dried mangoes, and he will be a speaker at West Africa Connect. Get to know more about him in this interview!
Hi Aleksandar, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
“I’m from Serbia and in my work, I always try to find the best shortcuts for SMEs to boost their trade. I also work in the field of organisational development where I facilitate strategy development projects, internal communication enhancement, and leadership skills improvement. I have an educational background in fruit technology and skilled myself in buyer requirements and standards in the fruits and vegetables trade in Europe.”
Can you tell something about the demand for dried mango?
“The demand in Europe for dried mangoes is still increasing and it is estimated that the market will grow by 5 to 6 per cent annually. Before, South Africa was a vast player but this has shifted to West Africa now. Especially Burkina Faso is the leading supplier in the world and Ghana and Ivory Coast are also emerging markets for dried mango.
Specifically, the market in the United Kingdom is also worth mentioning in this case. While other European markets mainly sell dried Kent and Keitt mangoes, companies in the UK promote the Carabao variety, also known as the Philippine mango or Manila mango. The Carabao is considered to offer a competitive advantage in terms of taste compared to others and sell it for higher prices.”
Do you see any interesting trends or developments in the dried mango industry right now?
“Europeans like the exotic taste of mango and cut, dried pieces of mango with no preservatives are popular. This is driven by the ‘clean label’ and healthy snacking trend. While sulphites are the main additive to increase the shelf life and keep the mango colour attractive, many brands demand organic dried mango with no additives. On the bright side—70 per cent of the dried mango supply from Burkina Faso is already organic.
Another trend is the production of dried mango as an ingredient for other products, such as breakfast cereal, soft dried mango and fruit bars, rolls, sticks and balls. More often, dried mango in cereal contains dried products sweetened with concentrated fruit juice, instead of sugar-infused fruits. In the case of soft dried mango, producers use rehydration to increase the water content to make the mango chewier.
In the future, I think the Nutri-Score or a yet to be developed European label will play a bigger role in consumer products. Dried mango is rated a C, and I think companies will find solutions to ensure mangoes are rated ‘healthier’ with an A or B instead.”
Do you have any tips for SMEs that want to export dried mango?
Be proactive, use marketing techniques to reach out, and invite buyers to your factory if you really think you are meeting the requirements, specifically in food safety. Make sure you have at least a BRC, IFS or FSSC 22000 certificate. Also, when reaching out to buyers it is important to keep in mind that just sending an email is not enough. You need to make the personal connection and make sure to offer additional information via a website as well.”
Aleksandar Jovanovic is one of the speakers during the first webinar about export opportunities and challenges in the West African mango industry on West Africa Connect on September 20. Keep an eye on our program to find out more soon!