Divine Flavor connected by family
Family is a word often used around the produce industry these days and for good reason. Many successful farm companies today come from families who have built their legacy over the years, passing it from one generation to the next. In Mexico, Divine Flavor’s grower group is no different, and each of the growers the company works with today has ties to the produce distributor through family history.
Divine Flavor is currently harvesting in west Mexico in the state of Culiacan, a region that significantly complements its principal growing region in Sonora with Grupo Alta. There the company has several key growers who have been producing for the company since it was founded in 2007. However, the history of these growers and their connection with Divine Flavor goes further back to when Carlos Bon, vice president of sales for Divine Flavor, was just a child.
“Our farm partners in Culiacan are not only growers who share the same vision we have for producing fresh, high-quality produce like we do at our farms at Grupo Alta, but they are also family,” said Bon. “I spent my entire childhood around them going to family dinners, spending time at their farms, or having sleepovers at their house. We were all connected at an early age being family members and now our connection expands to our group of growers producing for the brand of Divine Flavor.”
In Culiacan, the Divine Flavor group consists of Hortifresh, Viva Orgánica, Grupo Chaparral and Campaña Agricultores.
Hortifresh, the company that produces organic Bell peppers and mini peppers for Divine Flavor, is owned and operated by Ernesto Urtusuastegui, Bon’s second cousin.
Viva Orgánica is Divine Flavor’s specialty grower of tomatoes and cucumbers, and its owner is David Bon, Carlos’ younger brother.
Grupo Chaparral is the primary producer of Divine Flavor’s conventional Bell peppers and tomatoes, and is run by Sergio Esquer, a lifelong friend of Carlos’ father, Carlos Bon Sr. Esquer is someone Carlos refers to as a “tío,” which is uncle in Spanish.
Campaña Agricultores, operated by Francisco and Horacio Campaña, is technically not family, but they have been friends of the Divine Flavor team from the earlier days of Pedro Batiz, the company’s former vice president of sales.
Bon said family is a unique component to the Divine Flavor group and because of having this connection with its partner growers, it makes the produce brand a tight-knit team that produces unique commodities but in unison with the company’s product range.
“Being a company with strong family roots is what makes Divine Flavor a dynamic produce brand,” said Bon. “Family is the epicenter of what bonds our businesses together. It gives us support, strength and the ability to work closely together in ways other farm companies can’t. Each of our partners specializes in the items they produce, whether it’s Bell peppers, cucumbers or tomatoes — all key commodities of our product range. Aside from being connected through family, we also share the passion of growing first-class, fresh produce for our customers.”
He also noted that most traditional distributor companies have several growers who work with a variety of produce items, but he believes Divine Flavor’s philosophy of specializing on a particular item allows them to be experts on the matter by working with the single best growers of each of the commodities they do.
Though Bon and his brothers may not have the sleepovers they once had as kids with his cousins in Culiacan, his relationship with them remains strong, as most of them are the key vegetable growers for Divine Flavor.
So far in 2023, cooler weather has been the trend among growing regions for the produce industry. Throughout northern and western Mexico, the colder temperatures have delayed production in several categories for Divine Flavor, including its Bell pepper, mini pepper, cucumber and tomato programs.
Although the weather has been colder than usual for this time of year, the company expects production to be in a prime position moving into the month of April.
“None of the crops we grow had damage to them during the colder months, and all of them look especially healthy,” said Bon. “The plants actually look brand new and very comfortable, and that’s because the cooler temperatures keep them this way. When there’s cooler weather, this controls the insect population. For organics, we expect to excel and for our conventional items, it’ll be a cleaner program. But all together, we expect quality to be top notch for the months of April and May.”
Generally, the west Mexico/Sinaloa season sees peaks from the end of February to mid-March, and different cycles of certain tomato and cucumber commodities start up again at the end of March and early April. This season, the region won’t see the typical bounty it’s used to, but the season could finish stronger than usual, which will connect to the other growing regions in Mexico.
“This year, our production is shaping up to have a smoother transition,” said Bon. “Since the plants were well preserved, this will give us opportunities to go later into the Sinaloa season and better bridge a narrow gap until our farms in Central Mexico and Baja begin.”
Photo: Carlos Bon (center) of Divine Flavor with Francisco Campaña, David Bon, Ernesto Urtusuastegui and Iván Angulo.