Thailand farms

Will Coachella pay off for mango farms?

Milli eats mango and sticky rice on stage at the Coachella Music Festival.

The #mangostickyrice trend and a flurry of photos showing people devouring the dessert on social media have boosted sales of yellow tropical fruits served with hot sticky rice. Thai mango growers welcome this trend for two reasons: mangoes are now in season and farmers have struggled to make a profit since the pandemic began in 2020.

Q: Why is Thai mango now popular?

The iconic Thai delight of mango and sticky rice took center stage at the acclaimed Coachella Valley music and arts festival in the United States this weekend when Thai teenage artist and government critic Danupha ” Milli” Khanatheerakul ate a large bowl of dessert on stage and invited her audience to do the same.

Within 24 hours of the public stunt, Twitter saw nearly 1.4 million trending tweets and hashtags, and food delivery app Line Man reported a 3.5x sales boost for the dessert. The delivery app said the top three provinces ordering the dish were Chiang Mai, Nonthaburi and Bangkok.

Zhao Xinming, chief operating officer and product manager of on-demand services of Line Man Wongnai, said the mango sticky rice trend is expected to continue for two months, citing three factors: the popularity of Milli’s performance , the current mango season in Thailand and many restaurants on the platform adding the dish to their menu.

Even Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who sued the artist for defamation following his social media complaints about his mishandling of the pandemic, jumped on the trend and announced that the ministry of Culture was striving to have mango sticky rice recognized as a Thai intangible good. cultural heritage by Unesco. However, the exact national origin of the sweet dish is up for debate.

A vendor sells mangoes served with sticky rice at Bang Khae fresh market in Bangkok. (Photo: Arnun Cholmahatrakool)

Q: Why is the trend important for struggling Thai mango growers?

According to research house Krungthai Compass, Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of mangoes, accounting for 16% of global production. Mexico (12.4%) and the Netherlands (11.4%) occupy second and third place respectively.

Among the ASEAN countries, Thailand controls 61.5% of the international market, while Vietnam and Indonesia oscillate respectively at 19.5% and 8.7%.

Impressive export statistics mean that Thai farmers lose the most when crises such as the pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict break out.

“Before Covid hit, we could export the nam dok may variety overseas from 50 baht per kilogram, while selling it domestically at 25 baht,” said Sayan Bunying, chairman of the Thai Mango Growers Association.

“Since the pandemic, there have been problems with shipping logistics and increasingly expensive fertilizers, which has caused our export price to plunge to just 30 baht, while the domestic price is 12. .5 to 15 baht. That’s about a 50% loss in a very short time.”

He said the government has stepped in to help growers by subsidizing mango prices as well as distributing and selling the produce at discounted prices across the country.

Mr Sayan said he welcomes the new trend sparked by the Thai rapper and is happy to see Thais enjoying local fruits, especially during the mango season.

“When you see how struggling Thailand’s mango growers are, my appreciation and gratitude goes to anyone and any organization that advocates for people to eat our mangoes. I hope the trend also increases consumption and overseas sales,” he said.

Mr Sayan said Thai mangoes are grown commercially across the country and bear fruit for much of the year. By eating the mangoes, consumers are helping farmers and community farm workers who tend to crops year-round.

Q: What is the outlook for the Thai mango market?

Apinun Suprasurt, vice president of Krungthai Compass, said the main fruits that Thailand exports in fresh and frozen form are durian (61%), longan (20%), mangosteen (13%) and mango ( 2.1%).

The main destination is China, which takes 83.4% of all Thai fruit, possibly under a free trade agreement between the two nations.

While mangoes make up a small percentage of overall fruit exports, he said fruits amounted to 4.8 billion baht in total export value in 2021, a 37.8% increase from the previous year. ‘last year.

The Commerce Ministry said last month it was working with Chinese authorities to prioritize Thai fruit when imports pass through China’s strict Covid-19 inspection protocols.

The ministry expressed an optimistic outlook for fruit exports. It expects a 15% increase in outbound fruit shipments this year and a 13% increase in overall fruit production for the 2022 harvest season to 5.43 million tonnes.

About 30 percent of the fruit is for domestic consumption and the rest for export, the ministry said.

Q: What makes Thai mangoes special for the international palate?

The sweet taste of Thai mango served with hot sticky rice is a worldwide hit and was included in the latest CNN Travel “50 World’s Most Perfect Desserts” list.

This raises the question of why the golden and aromatic tropical fruits are so good for the international palate.

“Sweet, tropical, juicy – it’s like a big smile. Absolutely divine. Heavenly. Mix it with a little tequila and freshly squeezed lime for the perfect mangorita,” said Kristine Schaan, American skincare consultant health in Singapore.

Patrick Panzer, an Austrian expat working in manufacturing on the outskirts of Bangkok, recalls the first time he tried Thai mango in a factory canteen.

“Having eaten mangoes before in Europe, I wasn’t expecting much from the Thai mango, but I was positively surprised by its unique, sweet taste. It is definitely different from other mango varieties,” Panzer said.

“Although I love mango sticky rice, I prefer mango on its own. It’s a shame it’s not readily available in Europe because people there are craving it.

In Beijing, Xiang Zhifan, who has tasted several types of Thai fruit, from durian to longan, said what he likes the most in Thailand is the food.

“I’m not really a fruit lover, but I love Thai mangoes. I tried them when I visited Thailand in 2019. They taste great on their own, but I can’t deny that the sweet sticky rice complements them well.