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Thoughts from category: mango

Mango go go

Our Catherine and Marta recently travelled to India to visit the people who supply our mangoes. As well as tasting the new season mangoes, this trip gave them the opportunity to see how our suppliers are getting on with our five point sustainability plan. The farmers in the region were struggling with lower mango yields so we started a project in partnership with the University of Konkan to address some of the challenges they were facing. We wanted to find sustainable ways to make the mango trees as strong and resilient as possible, so that they could still produce high mango yields despite the changing climate.

While they were out there, Catherine kept a travel log of some of things she and Marta got up to, and what they learned about our mangoes along the way:


Catherine's Log

As I’m quite new to the team, this was my first time going over to India and I was very excited to see the mango farms for myself and find out how everything worked. After an overnight flight, we landed in a very sticky but stunning Mumbai and started the long car journey to our first supplier (easily the bumpiest car ride I've ever been on). It was fascinating to drive into the country, away from the big cities, and see the real India. It was hot, hectic and just as colourful as I’d hoped it would be and the views from the window definitely made up for the bumps in the road.

When we arrived at our first supplier, we started learning about all the work they do with the farmers to improve yields and the new planting techniques they have been trying out, which they needed to implement in order to adapt to the changing climate affecting their fruit. The farms have now started experimenting with different planting, pruning and irrigation techniques. By keeping the trees smaller, the mangoes are easier to pluck and, therefore, the trees yield much more fruit.

 

The scenery was stunning as we drove to our next supplier – filled with lush tropical trees and greenery. When we arrived, we had a go at picking some mangoes ourselves as all of the mangoes on the farms are hand-plucked using a basket on the end of a stick. The equipment looks very simple, but is excellent at getting the job done. Here’s one of our pickers in action:

 

Once they've been picked, the mangoes are washed, placed into bowls, sorted, sent to be ripened and then turned into puree.

One of the most exciting moments of the trip was when we met the king of mangoes himself – the lovely Badrul, who stars in our British TV ads. He doesn’t speak English but we used a translator to tell him that we were really happy to meet him and that he was famous in the UK.

 

We reckon he should've been wearing this shirt when we made the ad (maybe one to consider for next time).

After visiting the suppliers, we’re chuffed to see that our sustainability plan is starting to make a real difference to the way the farmers in the region grow their fruit. We use mango in lots of our recipes (including this and this) and we really hope you think they’re as tasty as we do. 

Mangolia

We don't mind a bit of healthy competition (it keeps us on our toes) but we were a bit worried this week when Matteo shared his 7 year old daughter Carlotta's plans for a new smoothie company called 'Mangolia'. 

 

Her drinks come in every flavour, are available in every shop and even have their own dramatic tagline – "Eat it well. Drink it well. It's pure fruit. It's fresh fruit. Mangolia." 

 We'll be keeping an eye on this one.

a visit to our mango farms

Our Sustainability Advisor Charlotte went to India recently to visit some of our mango farmers and see for herself the results of a project we're running which is helping our farmers to protect their yields from the effects of climate change. Here's the story of her trip:

Hubli Charvran is a calm, meditative farmer who has been farming his 25-acre mango orchard on the western coast of India for over 15 years. Hubli is one of our mango suppliers; we use his mangoes in our smoothies and juices. I went out to visit and to see first-hand what Hubli is doing to make sure his farm is as sustainable and productive as possible, and to make a little film about it.

Hubli, one of our mango farmers

A few years ago, we’d visited our mango farmers and found that they were struggling with lower mango yields due to the combined effects of climate change and poor farming practices. Climate change is causing higher temperatures and more erratic monsoons. When we saw how it was directly affecting our farmers, we started a project in partnership with the University of Konkan to improve things. We wanted to find sustainable ways to make the trees as strong and resilient as possible, so that they can still produce high mango yields despite the changing climate. The project was called the 5 Point Agriculture Project, because there are 5 stages involved in strengthening the trees, and Hubli joined the project a few years ago.

As well as making the film, I also went to India to meet up with some organisations who may be able to help us with the next phase of the project, and to conduct routine assessments of some of our mango farms against our innocent sustainable agriculture standards.

After a 15-hour journey I arrived at Goa airport at 6am local time, where it was already a sweltering 35 degrees. The roads were already packed with chaotic traffic, the hoots of car horns echoing around everywhere. At the airport I met Budhwant, my guide. Budhwant was hilarious. Mad about mangoes (he eats mangoes all the time, from morning until night, and even has mango-flavoured car sweets), he was an avid font of knowledge about all different types of trees, pointing out all the different species we passed during our 5-hour car journey, and stopping regularly to pick up fruits from the side of the road so I could taste them. Unfortunately Budhwant’s driving wasn’t as impressive as his tree knowledge. Let’s just say it was an interesting 5 hours… That afternoon I had a good meeting with one of our mango suppliers, followed by two of the most delicious curries I’ve ever tasted. 

On my second morning in India I headed straight out to the farms. The farmers and their families were incredibly warm and welcoming, and were happy to show me everything and answer all of my questions. They plied me with fresh coconut juice and freshly picked mangoes still warm from the sun. It was an unforgettable day. The farmers were all really excited about the results of the project: the trees that had been cared for using the 5 point plan regime had started to produce 25% more mangoes and higher quality fruit, compared to trees that had been managed in the traditional way. Since the mangoes had only just ripened, I was lucky enough to see the difference for myself – I was surprised how obvious it was which trees had been involved in our project: they looked much healthier, and had many more mangoes.

At the end of Day 2 I was joined by Jim and Kev, who’d be helping me to make the film. There was a bit of panic when they turned up without their camera equipment, which had gone AWOL in transit, but miraculously it all turned up 6 hours later.

We spent two days making the film, which may seem a bit excessive seeing as it’s only one minute long, but there was simply so much to say and so much beauty and interest to try and capture that we hardly stopped at all. We spent both days at the farms involved in the 5 point project, starting at dawn and finishing after sunset in order to make the most of the best light. I’m not a film-maker and I’d never heard of the ‘golden hour’, or appreciated the benefits of filming in this soft evening light, when the golden sunshine dapples through the trees and the shadows disperse. But Jim and Kev were fanatical about it, insisting that Budhwant drove us around to find the best spot. They even clambered up a half-constructed five storey building via bamboo ladders to get a good view of the sunset from the top (don’t try this at home). The madness paid off, though, because the sunsets on the west coast of India are truly breathtaking, and we got some incredible footage.

an Indian sunset

Hubli is now an ambassador for the 5 point agriculture project. He was so impressed with the results on his own farm that he’s now an advocate for the importance of farming in harmony with nature, working with natural forces rather than against them. His knowledge about how to create the best organic compost, natural pest control measures and clay pot irrigation kept me captivated all day long. And his words of wisdom about the importance of slowing down the pace of life, following your hopes and dreams, and adopting Buddhist philosophies affected Jim, Kev and I very profoundly. (As did the copious amounts of fresh coconut water.)

Our guide Budhwant wasn’t particularly interested in these conversations, though. Instead he was busy thinking about where he could buy his next box of fresh mangoes. By the end of our trip, Budhwant had bought 72 mangoes, and there was barely any room left in the car for our filming equipment.

You can watch the film we made here, I hope you like it:

alphonso mangoes: tropical, and also topical

Our juice is really very tasty. We've made some new TV adverts that show the lengths we go to to make sure every single carafe of innocent juice tastes as delicious as possible. And great lengths they are too, involving bows and arrows and hand-turning mangoes and all sorts. It's all about finding the very best fruit we can find.

You can watch the ads, and learn a bit more about how we get our juice so tasty, right here.

  innocent juice

On a topical note, you may also have noticed some stuff in the papers about an EU shortage of Alphonso mangoes. We do use Alphonso mangoes – they’re the tastiest – but the ban doesn’t affect us, because it only refers to whole mangoes. The mangoes we use in our drinks are crushed in India when they’re nicely ripe, and shipped over to us as puree (like all of our fruit, our mangoes are never, ever air-freighted).

We work with our mango farmers to help improve their livelihoods. In fact, we've just finished the first phase of a project with a group of farmers to improve their yields, income and environmental impact. So far the results are amazing. We’ll be working with them even harder now, as many are small family-run farms that sell both whole fruit to the international market, and crushed fruit to us. We want to make sure our mango growers can continue growing as many mangoes as they can for as long as they can, and we want the mango market to remain as healthy as - well, as mangoes. 

If you have any questions about any of the fruit we use, our adverts, or anything else to do with our juice, drop a line to hello@innocentdrinks.co.uk or tweet us