In recent seasons, Divine Flavor and its growing locations at Grupo ALTA have been converting their operations into centralized packing facilities. As a supplier of Mexican table grapes, these additions to their infrastructure have immediately contributed to their ability to pack multiple presentations for various clients at the same time. Though, per the company’s vice president of sales, the biggest advantage corresponds to reduced quality problems and better pre-cooling conditions throughout the season.
“After several years of using a centralized facility for our grapes, we recognize two very important factors--when everything is filtered through one central location, this allows our quality control teams to directly supervise every box being packed,” said Carlos Bon of Divine Flavor.
“Secondly, we are able to operate faster throughout the process. One of the greatest advantages of having a central packing shed is it gives our operation the ability to remove grapes from the intense heat and have the fruit go into pre-cooled rooms immediately.”
During the Sonora, Mexico grape season, temperatures average around 105-110 degrees once the end of May and first days June begin, says Bon. “When the fruit comes into the packing facility, the pre-cooling process starts right away and through gradual stages,” he said. “By the time the grapes are packed, they’ve already reached a temperature of around 55 degrees, improving the condition of the fruit dramatically.”
Bon says this year has been challenging for many Mexican grape growers due to labor issues but also due to the popular demand of special packs at the retail level.
“Thankfully, we have not had any issues regarding the lack of labor but our competitors are having a tougher time,” he said. “Packing special presentations requires more time and when there are labor issues, growers can’t afford to risk time. For us, this has been an opportunity to take on that challenge.”
In 2019, one of Divine Flavor largest grape operations at Grupo ALTA, opened its new packing facility and became one of the largest grape packing sheds in Mexico, a concept and model which has been applied to all the Grupo ALTA locations. The facility occupies more than 6,500 square meters and 10 packing lines with the latest modern features.
Bon also noted having a centralized packing facility has improved worker morale and productivity. “The facility at Pozo Manuel and our other grape locations are air conditioned, well-lit and music is played for the workers, creating a fun, stress-free environment.”
“This facility is a commitment to innovation and infrastructure which supports our vision of providing the best fruit to customers,” he adds.
Divine Flavor/Grupo ALTA will enter peak production of grapes from the Hermosillo region before moving into the later part of the Sonoran deal in Caborca. The company will see its first Jellyberry shipments in the next few days.