5 for 5: Five Questions/Five Answers
Q & A with Ernie Chamberlain
Today we take a moment to speak with Ernie Chamberlain, sales executive of Divine Flavor. Ernie is part of the hot house veg team and specializes in tomatoes, bell peppers, and the occasional watermelons. Ernie is a Nogales native with more than 20 years in the business.
Q: So Ernie, how are things going so far this season on your side of the table?
Ernie: It’s been excellent for hot house veg coming out Mexico this season. The move has been very steady, especially with Roma tomatoes, green bells, and colored bells. Demand has been fair and I see this continuing these next few months.
Q: What has been a surprise so far this season in your opinion?
Ernie: The fact that we are still dealing with the uncertainty of covid. It’s getting better, but we are still feeling a ripple effect throughout the supply chain, especially with logistics. I’m also surprised about the steady movement we’ve seen over the last few weeks of January leading into the month of February of our hot house commodities. Freights are out of control at the moment, but having fresh, good quality product help navigate through these challenges.
Q: They say produce prices have been a little higher than normal these days. What are your thoughts on this?
Ernie: It’s not just the cost of produce, but prices everywhere within the industry has gone up. Water, permits, fertilizers. Cost and demand are what play a role in this. I think things will ease over eventually, but it will take time for our economy to recover from these last few years. As producers of fresh fruits and vegetables, we have to focus on what we can control, and that is farming and distributing the best quality and best tasting products to our customers.
Q: How do you see these next few months shaping up for your commodities?
Ernie: Sinaloa and Sonora will have a great next two months for us at Divine Flavor. March is generally when all of our hot house veg items come on strong with good volume. When you have bells, cukes, squash/zucchini, and tomatoes coming in at the same time at the movement you want, it creates opportunity for everyone. Due to unfortunate weather problems in certain farming regions of the US, this will create an opportunity for us to supply certain key produce commodities to make up for what may be lacking. For us, it is important to sustain availability with out products when those same products in other growing regions are on the tight side. What I’ve noticed with Divine Flavor is that our farms are able to persevere when there’s problems (referring to weather or diseases with the plants). Part of the reason for this is because of the experience the farms have and investment with the infrastructure and greenhouses.
Q: Since starting at Divine Flavor, what have you enjoyed the most and which product is your favorite to work with?
Ernie: Working for Divine has been a great opportunity so far. It’s professional work culture and it’s fun to be around the team here. Our sales team is dynamic and each worker here has passion for what they do. Divine Flavor is a driven company. My favorite commodity to work with has to be Roma tomatoes. I’ve been working with Romas and tomatoes in general my entire career and I know a lot about it. What you sell is your work and to be successful, you have to love it.
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