Divine Flavor’s summer organic programs heating up
With the West Mexico vegetable season in the rearview mirror and the Sonoran table grape crop wrapping up later this month, Nogales, AZ-based grower-distributor Divine Flavor will shift its focus to the summer programs starting in Central Mexico and Baja California to complement its year-round portfolio.
Divine Flavor, whose motto is “Growing Better Food for a Better World,” is one of the largest organic producers in all of Mexico during the months of November-June with its grape and vegetable programs. However, as Central Mexico and Baja California continue to excel as two key growing regions outside the typical West Mexico vegetable season, Divine Flavor will resume with its core vegetable items throughout the summer in these areas.
Viva Organica, a sister company to Divine Flavor, and Hortifresh, the company’s principal pepper grower, are two key producers that have expanded their operations into central and Baja, Mexico over the years to strategically bridge a gap outside the traditional Mexican vegetable season in Sinaloa.
With these two veteran partners, alongside several other grower alliances throughout Mexico, Divine Flavor will have increased production on its core vegetable items of Bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash/zucchini as it moves into the summer months.
“The summer programs were delayed because of the cooler weather this year, but July promises to get back on track with our organic programs,” said Clarisa Batiz, organic category manager for Divine Flavor. “We’ll have more consistent supplies coming into July, especially on our organic grape tomatoes, slicer and Persian cucumbers, and summer squash. August will be a key time for our organic colored and green Bell peppers and mini peppers.”
Over the past few seasons, Mexico has become a key location during the summer months largely due to its ideal growing conditions in Baja California and Central Mexico in the states of Jalisco and Nayarit. But another important factor is the rise in labor and inflation costs across the U.S. and Canada.
“Overall, Mexico is evolving and becoming a more essential partner to the U.S. due to recent inflation and increased labor costs,” said Batiz. “Baja California and Central Mexico are becoming a stronger piece to the puzzle for our year-round programs. We have the opportunity to transition the exact same programs we have from West Mexico, but now at our farms in Jalisco and Baja during the summer months.
“I’m very proud of our growers and the investments they’ve made on different levels, to expand in other regions of Mexico to help Divine Flavor create year-round programs on the veg items we offer,” she added. “Growing organically in Central Mexico comes with is challenges, but our growers are committed due to the value it brings to our programs. They are complying with all our company pillars, being Fair Trade certified, having all the necessary audits, but most importantly, producing high-quality organic vegetables.”
Viva Organica is owned and managed by David Bon, the younger brother of Carlos Bon, who is the vice president of sales for Divine Flavor. Viva Organica operates as Divine Flavor’s specialty organic grower, producing in the Ensenada region of Baja California for nearly 10 years.
Hortifresh, whose roots originate from Sinaloa, is led by Ernesto Urtusuastegui. Hortifresh has been producing for more than four decades in the Culiacan region of Sinaloa, and this year will be its second year producing organics in the state of Jalisco, a project Hortifresh started for Divine Flavor several years ago.
Organic is a word often mentioned in Divine Flavor. For the company, growing organically has always been part of its DNA -- a philosophy that puts an emphasis on treating the land and people with respect.
Grupo Alta, Divine Flavor’s parent company, embraced this growing ideology more than 30 years ago, and it has been part of Divine Flavor’s philosophy since it was established in 2007.
Batiz has been with the company for more than 12 years. Her father, Pedro Batiz, was formerly Divine Flavor’s vice president of sales and one of the founding members of the company, and she cites following her father’s footsteps as one reason to join the produce industry after studying Business Agriculture and Economy at the University of Arizona. Another reason was her passion for helping others in a positive manner.
“Divine Flavor has been one of my greatest teachers in life and I’ve learned so many valuable lessons here,” said Batiz. “Being an organic consumer since I was 14 years old, I truly believe organics is the most optimal way to consume the food we eat. It’s beneficial to the planet, our soil and our physical bodies, and I love being able to participate and be part of something that transcends and brings benefits in numerous ways. Not only do I feel honored to be a piece of a larger puzzle along with many others that look to positively impact our industry, but I’m also grateful to be surrounded by great team members, outstanding growers, a loyal customer base, and a company who has blossomed throughout the years and is continuously looking to be better. It’s truly a blessing to be a part of it all.”
Divine Flavor will be exhibiting at this year’s OPS show (booth No. 604).
Top photo: David Bon (center), owner of Viva Organica, Divine Flavor’s specialty organic grower, with team members Vianey Camacho, Carlos Arellano, Iveth Terrazas and Armando Montaño.