Consistent year-round supply goal of Divine Flavor
Though specific vegetable production areas typically have peaks and valleys, Divine Flavor is altering its planting schedules and utilizing multiple growing districts in Mexico to deliver a consistent supply of its core products to its many U.S. retail customers.
Carlos Bon, vice president of sales for the Nogales, AZ-based company, said the operation, which is the distributing company for Mexico-based Grupo Alta, has long had significant production in West Mexico and Baja California and has recently beefed up its Central Mexico volume from the state of Jalisco. “What we are doing differently is trying to minimize those peaks and valleys,” he said. “We have greatly increased our summer production from Central Mexico so that we can provide our customers steady production all year-round.”
Michael DuPuis, quality assurance and public relations coordinator for the company, noted that Divine Flavor offers all the core vegetables that the United States has looked to Mexico to provide during the winter months for many decades. That list includes many different varieties of tomatoes as well as cucumber and many peppers and squashes. And it offers those items all year-round. The company also has seasonal production of items such as grapes and melons.
In December, Divine Flavor transitioned to the West Mexico vegetable production of the Culiacan Valley in the state of Sinaloa. Bon noted that the crops grown in that region are of public record and the late 2021 plantings, which are currently being harvested, reveal no major deviations from the norm. The area provides the United States with a significant portion of its tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant and squash, as well as other vegetables, during winter and spring and this year is shaping up to be no different.
Divine Flavor Sales Manager Luis Batiz said the season is progressing right on schedule. “We started in Sinaloa in December on time and have had no disruptions,” he said in late January. “We currently have very consistent volume of all our items and will continue to harvest consistent supplies through February, March and April.”
He added that there has been excellent growing weather with good volume industry-wide allowing for a steady stream of promotable supplies.
When questioned, Bon said a trend that seems to have an increasing number of retail followers is the movement toward private label. “Every year there seems to be more retailers moving in that direction,” he said.
He added that Divine Flavor is very proud of its own label and enjoys expanding its brand identification, but it is also proud to be chosen as the supplier for a private label. Bon said there are many regional and national retailers that have very popular private labels with strong consumer identification. To be chosen to pack in those labels is an honor.
DuPuis remarked that being approved for a private label program is a time-consuming and detailed process that can take six months or longer. It requires adherence to rigorous standards and reflects high standards.
Batiz reiterated that one of Divine Flavor’s advantages, which coincides with its popularity as a private label provider, is its ability to ship all year long. He added that the company’s production in Baja is instrumental in their program as it fills in the time slots when production in Sinaloa and Jalisco wanes.
He did note that while Divine Flavor regularly utilizes ports of entry in California and Texas, the Arizona port in Nogales is its most voluminous crossing destination as it is where the company is headquartered and has significant warehousing and logistics capability. Of course, the South Texas ports of entry are closer to the Jalisco production and California ports are utilized most often for the Baja California production.
Bon said that the seamless transition between its various production areas and its flow of product is the company’s strategy and promise moving forward. DuPuis called it a “one-stop shop” philosophy that allows its customers to not only fill their trucks with one stop but do it all year long.