Fresh-cut mangos as a value-added product
A review of available printed and electronic sources of information about fresh-cut mango quality attributes and their maintenance between preparation and consumption points was conducted. Interviews (by email, telephone, and/or in person) of representatives of the fresh-cut fruit industry were focused on their challenges in sourcing desired mango cultivars and fruit sizes, preparing, and marketing fresh-cut mango products. Lack of consistency in availability, quality and ripeness stage of the whole mangoes was the most frequent challenge mentioned by the processors. They would like to receive defect-free, large fruit size (10 or fewer per 4 kg) with small seed size, firm-ripe (almost ready-to-eat) that is ready-to-cut mangoes. ‘Kent’ and ‘Keitt’ are the preferred cultivars for fresh-cut processing and there is increasing customer demand for ‘Ataulfo’. Most processors are aware of the factors that influence shelf-life of the fresh-cut products and are implementing the proper sanitation and cold chain maintenance procedures. Packaging to reduce water loss is commonly used and modified atmosphere packaging (2-4% oxygen + 8-12% carbon dioxide) is used to a limited extent. Only a few processors use chemical treatments for delaying softening and browning of the fresh-cut mangoes. There is good potential for increasing the share of fresh-cut mangoes from the current 3% to a much higher percentage of the total fresh-cut fruit products marketed through foodservice and retail outlets. Based on analysis of the literature review and interviews of many fresh-cut fruit processors, future research needs include the following:
1. Identifying the optimal ripeness stage (based on firmness and soluble solids content) for whole mangoes to be used for fresh-cut products to provide good flavor to the consumer and adequate shelf-life.
2. Evaluating how the various procedures (chemical dips, modified atmospheres, ethylene action inhibitors, etc) influence flavor in addition to texture (softening) and appearance (browning) of fresh-cut mangoes. Understanding mechanisms and factors that affect flavor retention in freshcut mangoes could lead to new technologies for the preservation of flavor quality.
3. Comparing the efficacy of water disinfection and fruit cleaning procedures in reducing microbial contamination to select the best method for cleaning mangoes before processing.
4. Developing new technologies for reducing labor costs by automation of as many of the processing steps as possible without significant losses in yield (weight of fresh-cut products relative to weight of the intact fruits) or quality of the fresh-cut mangoes.
5. Developing new value-added fresh mango products that appeal to various consumer groups.