As the Sonora, Mexico grape season is just a few weeks away, grower/shipper Divine Flavor will quickly turn their attention to the upcoming grape deal, relying on their work force to prepare for one the busiest times of the year. “With an expected 30 percent volume increase from 2020 to 2021 (roughly 5 million boxes total) the only way to manage the growth is through experience and social programs we’ve created over the years,” says Michael DuPuis, quality assurance and public relations coordinator for Divine Flavor.
Currently, the company is in the middle of their new Jalisco grape program which is expected to wrap up just before their Sonoran deal starts. The Sonoran grape season is expected to start around May 23rd, offering both organic and conventional grapes.
Taking care of workers
The company, whose roots stem from parent company Grupo Alta, believe their social commitments are the foundation to preparing them for the anticipated increased volume. “The only way to successfully grow as a company in this industry for any commodity is by taking care of the workers,” commented DuPuis.
“Our farm workers and employees are the only reason we are able to take on new opportunities and excel in the category of table grapes (and our other items),” he said. “The way our farms manage and take care of the employees at our parent company, Grupo Alta, are the reason why we are able to supply more volume and some of the best tasting grapes from around the world. It’s top-notch agriculture and farming at its best.”
For Divine Flavor, social responsibility has always been the foundation of the company and the gateway to providing a better life for its employees.
“Growing the healthiest and best tasting produce starts with how you take care of the workers.” This is a philosophy which originated with Grupo Alta, and this ideology has resonated throughout the company as we’ve expanded over the years with vineyards and greenhouses all throughout Mexico and South America. The notion of taking care of the land and its people has translated into producing cleaner, sustainable, and more organic product for consumers around the globe.”
In the world of farming and agriculture, so many details go into the day-to-day operation. Farmers are usually up before sunrise and each department prepares their area for a busy day of production. But one of the most important details doesn’t even involve farm work, rather, it focuses on preparing nutritious meals for all the workers at the farm. In charge of making all this happen is Rosa ‘Rossy’ Cortazar, who is the official nutrition coordinator for all of Grupo Alta.
Cortazar, who is following in her mother’s footsteps, has been working in Grupo Alta for 15 years and her main responsibility is to plan all the meals for the workers at the farm, ensuring they are healthy and nutritious, and give the workers the energy they need for a day’s work.
“Our main goal here at Grupo Alta is to make sure the employees are happy and we do this by making sure they are well nourished, have free medical attention and dental services, and live a better life,” said Cortazar. “We prepare all of our staff three nutritious meals a day so they are able to accomplish their daily task and feel confident they work for a company who cares for them.”
During the harvest season, bigger farms can have anywhere from 500-2,000 workers who come from various states in Southern Mexico, some from areas where quality of life can be much different than in the northern and central regions. “For those seeking employment in the farming industry, Divine Flavor and its farm operations have been a tremendous opportunity as workers are offered good paying jobs and amenities they wouldn’t have access to otherwise,” Cortazar commented.
Through the years, Divine Flavor and Grupo Alta’s partnership with Fair Trade USA have paved a way to not only give back to the farm workers, but also better develop medical care in some of the workers’ hometowns, like a medical facility which was built in Chiapas from Fair Trade community development funds (see story here).
“Grupo Alta is very committed to every employee, not only at the ranches, but also their communities. We really look after their stability, safety, and genuine impact of their life”, said Cortazar.
“I’ve been working for Grupo Alta for 15 years and I’m extremely proud to know I’m part of a company with clear objectives. It has been a solid career for me and incredible to witness how the company has grown throughout the years having passion, dedication, and the discipline to taking steps of taking care of its workers”.