As spring comes closer, many growers are getting ready to start harvesting crops. For Divine Flavor, the coming months will be an important time of the year where their vegetable, melon and grape programs are all in full production. Michael DuPuis shares: “March through June are really the core months for us, and with exciting new developments being ready this season, we are looking forward to the next couple of weeks and months.”
Extended melon window
One of the new opportunities Divine Flavor is working with this year is an extended window for their organic melon program. “In years past, our melon program would start at the end of April and run into May, finishing around Memorial Day. This year, we’ve increased acreage at some of our existing farms in Navojoa and our melon program will start with them in the first week of April,” DuPuis explains.
Divine Flavor’s Grupo Alta location in Sonora has traditionally serviced the entire melon program in the past, but having additional organic farm acreage will help compliment their melon program sooner DuPuis says: “Grupo Alta is a Fair Trade Certified grower, and our new melon farm in Navojoa is working on becoming Fair Trade Certified. They will probably achieve their certification for next year, so it’s really exciting to be able to offer great products that are backed up by the promise of Fair Trade. In addition to that, we also have a really great category manager for our melon program, Elizabeth Smart. She knows the melon category so well, and she is great at making sure that we are getting the best quality and flavor to our customers.”
The company works with regular-sized seedless watermelons as well as mini organic seedless watermelons. “This is a great window for melons,” says DuPuis. “When the weather starts to warm up, the demand for watermelons always goes up too, that is why we’re excited to be able to offer them throughout a longer window to our customers,” he adds.
Jalisco grapes to start end of March
Divine Flavor’s melon program isn’t the only one of their programs seeing a longer window this year. This is the company’s second year doing their Jalisco grape program. “This has been a great project for us,” says DuPuis. “Our experience has paid great contribution to us being able to grow our grapes in different and new regions of Mexico. Grapes from Jalisco are something completely new, and we have found a way to grow our high-flavor varieties like Cotton Candy and Jelly Berry grapes in this new region that will extend our Mexican grape season by almost two months.”
The Mexican grape season typically starts in the middle of May in the state of Sonora. With their new operations in Jalisco, Divine Flavor is able to start their Mexican grape program in April. “The Jalisco program will go through the second week of May so it will line up very nicely with the Sonoran table grape season. Being able to offer this window before the traditional season starts is really good for those retail partners that are looking to start a bit earlier. It’s also great because it gives us added dependability and allows us to provide excellent customer service by providing our fresh, high quality products on time,” says DuPuis.
This year, the early start to the Mexico grape program that Divine Flavor offers is especially welcome on the market. “We all know there was some unfortunate weather that accounted for large losses of the Chilean crop, so once we get into April retailers will be excited to have a fresh Mexican crop available to be able to offer their customers,” DuPuis explains.
Wide portfolio of Mexican vegetables
In addition to these new developments in the company’s melon and grape programs, the company is also seeing peak volumes on their vegetable program throughout the coming months. “January and February are usually a slow start to the season, and now that we’re getting well into March the volumes are starting to look up for all of our commodities,” says DuPuis. Divine Flavor offers bell peppers, mini peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and a full tomato line, all of which are available in both conventional and organic options. “April will be a good month for our tomatoes and cucumbers specifically, and we’ll have organic Roma tomatoes and slicer cucumbers out of Sonora starting that month. Those will really be the star of the program, since Romas and slicers are always a very popular commodity, and being able to offer them in an organic option will be a great opportunity,” says DuPuis.
“We have a really good sales team of people here and our emphasis lies on more than just getting the product out to the market; we want to ensure that we bring out the best product and flavor that the retailers and consumers expect. Our experience and knowledge of the commodities we grow and sell will certainly pay dividends to the programs in the coming months,” DuPuis concludes.