From Start to Finish
To grow the healthiest and best tasting products, it all starts with quality. In agriculture, the quality of the fruits and vegetables being grown must be controlled at each part of the supply chain starting with how the produce is grown all the way to the final consumer. When it comes to perishable commodities, there are many fine details which must be managed in order to offer the final consumer the best quality product. Farmers must have healthy soils, the plant needs to be cared for, whether this is applying organic practices or overseeing the plants while they are producing, and most importantly, preserving the product in proper cold storage so the fruits and vegetables arrive in the same condition as they were the day they were harvested.
Offering the freshest products to consumers has always been the core mission for Divine Flavor and its growers, which is why it’s part of the company’s 6 pillars.
Along with food safety, organics, corporate/social responsibility, traceability, and sustainability- quality must be at the forefront because it’s what the final consumers want- fresh, flavorful, and healthy produce.
Understanding how to achieve the best quality starts with the land and the workers responsible for growing the product. To be a successful farmer, you must have the experience and know the produce you are cultivating. This includes knowing the best times to harvest, how to promote healthy soils and plants, and having a passionate work force who loves what they do.
Without having passionate and dedicated workers who are responsible for overseeing the production, results will most likely be mediocre.
Quality Control- one the strongest components for reaching the best results of quality or detecting problems. Having quality control teams throughout all the phases of the production is essential for growing the best classification of fruit and vegetables. In the fields, quality control specialist work with harvest engineers to make sure product is ready to be picked or to steer plants in a healthier direction. In the packing facility, quality control teams filter even further to only select the best conditioned product.
Centralized packing and state-of-the-art cold storage facilities also play a critical factor in preserving the quality. Table grapes, especially, must be stored in very cold temperatures (35 degrees and below during transportation and 32 degrees in cold storage). If kept in proper cold temperatures, grapes can last around 24 days from time of harvest without any preservative treatment.
Once the product leaves the farm/facility. It is brought to the cold storage facility in the US for inspections and additional quality checks to confirm the product is the best of condition before it’s sent to the final customer. The ultimate goal is for the consumer to have a fresh, high-quality product they can bring home and enjoy. With produce, it is extremely important to offer customers the best quality because it’s a food that correlates to health and consumers should be able to rely and trust in the healthy products they purchase.
Q & A with Antonio Escobar
Grapes Category Manager of Divine Flavor
1. Why is quality and flavor such an important factor for Divine Flavor and the industry in general?
“I work on the growing side of the business but I am also a consumer of grapes. As consumers, we remember the great eating experiences whether it’s grapes or any other product that you truly enjoy. If I go to a store and buy a bag of grapes that are really good, I’m very likely to be wanting to come back to the same supermarket and buy the same grapes, over and over again. That is why it’s so important. Our goal is to drive up the consumption of grapes as a healthy delicious snack, and to us the key to that will always be flavor.”
2. How does Divine Flavor achieve unique flavor and exceptional quality with our table grapes?
“Genetics, experience, and passion play the biggest role when it comes to flavor and quality. The key word is passion. There are many growers that grow fruit as a business choice, or an investment. There are also many growers that have a passion for grape growing and harvesting flavorful grapes. I believe Divine Flavor’s mission is clear- to deliver flavorful quality grapes, and that requires a lot of work, discipline and patience even before the harvesting begins.”
3. What is Divine Flavor doing to raise the bar in terms of flavor?
“Divine Flavor is a very forward thinking company. We’re constantly looking to the future and trying to stay ahead of the curve. Whether it is new growing regions, new varieties with better flavor or better harvesting techniques to achieve best flavor.”
4. What do you enjoy most about this industry and your position?
“I think the grape category is one of the most dynamic and constantly changing categories within the produce industry. Even more so with all the different varieties that have been developed in the past few years. There is always something new or always something interesting going on in the grapeworld. I very much enjoy the challenge of operating in this category.”
5. What is your favorite sneaky/under the radar grape variety?
“I’m all about the Timpson. It just has a very special flavor. As soon as you bite the first berry you will sense a unique and much different flavor. Yeah, right now it’s my favorite for sure!”
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