For Divine Flavor, nothing says fresh more than a sweet and mildly spiced Bell pepper, a juicy rich tomato, or a fresh crisp cucumber coming from Sinaloa, Mexico. During the winter and early spring months, the Culiacán region is the heart of Divine Flavor’s vegetable program producing a variety of products such as their organic-colored Bell peppers, Roma and beefsteak tomatoes, Magnífico grape tomatoes, or the long English and Persian cucumbers.
Through the years, Divine Flavor’s veg program has expanded past their growing locations in Sonora, and Sinaloa has become a solid growing location for their hot house commodities. Part of this growth is due to strong partnerships, but the company believes their close relationships with family-oriented companies who share the same corporate values are the main reason Sinaloa has become a prime location.
“Our partners here in Sinaloa are expert growers and they share the same values our own farms have across Mexico,” said Carlos Bon, Divine Flavor’s vice president of sales.
“Our growth is not just from planting more hectares across more land, it’s specializing in the products we currently have and becoming experts in that commodity. The intelligent farmer, the responsible farmer, grows not to have more product, but to invest in infrastructure and technology- improving processes at all stages of production and constantly planning ahead,” he said.
Just outside the city of Culiacán is a small town called Navolato, and there lies Divine Flavor’s most immense Bell pepper farm, Hortifresh. With more than 15 years of working with Divine Flavor, Hortifresh has emerged as the largest Bell pepper supplier for the company and also being one of the largest pepper growers in all of Mexico.
Ernesto Urtusastegui, owner and CEO of Hortifresh, said trust and continuous improvement are a few core areas which bond the farmer and brand together so well. “We have a common goal of supplying the best quality product with added value to the customers and markets,” said Urtusastegui.
“As farmers, it is important to have visibility, clarity, and to know how to supply the markets we grow for. Through fluid communication and strategic planning with Divine Flavor, we are able to supply the best products which are grown responsibly and sustainable.”
Around 20 years ago, Hortifresh started growing conventional bell peppers in shade houses, and soon after, the grower specialized in the pepper category — growing all four colors of Bell peppers organically, and over the last decade, the company has been investing more in greenhouse technology and packing sheds designed and capable of packing an array of colored bell pepper and mini pepper presentations.
Aside from Divine Flavor’s principal Bell pepper grower, Hortifresh, the company also has close working relations with Grupo Agricola Chaparral & Tombell, another heavy hitter for the pepper category, but also a big player for hothouse tomatoes. The company also has a strong history with veteran grower, Agricola Campaña who produces their long English cucumbers, but also, in Sinaloa, is Divine Flavor’s organic specialty grower and sister company, Viva Orgánica, who grows the brand’s Magnífico grape tomatoes.
“Our distribution company is an alliance of some of the best growers in all of Mexico,” said Bon. “Sinaloa is a very important region of Mexico for growing produce and our partners here are very family oriented. They have what we look for in our own farms. They are very much an extension of our Divine Flavor family”.