5 for 5: Five Questions/Five Answers
Q & A with Polo Rojas, Research and Development Engineer of Grupo ALTA
Today it is impossible to ignore that research, development and innovation constitute one of the key forces that drive the growth of companies, and Grupo Alta has made a firm commitment to the present and future, placing the R&D department at the center of its competitive strategy.
With the objective of finding solutions that allow Grupo Alta to become a pioneering and efficient company, today we dive in deeper with five questions and five answers with Polo from Grupo ALTA.
Q1: What is your responsibility in the company?
Polo: My responsibility and the main goal of this department (R&D), is to maintain this company’s innovative approach to varietal studies with our grapes and various vegetable products. It is our priority to always be up to date with the new varieties which the different genetic programs can offer us. This differentiates us as a brand and as a company.
Q2: Why it is important to have R&D in agriculture?
Polo: Agriculture can be a huge variable and unstable at times. We have to be innovating constantly because the competition is very strong and if we don’t take advantage of the opportunities to innovate, our competitors will do it first. There are also climatic factors that force us to update and commit to continuing our advances in the agriculture development. For us as a department, it is very important that our research really becomes a benefit for the company, and we have achieved this by finding new, more productive varieties, varieties with WOW flavors, varieties with less work, which translates into lower costs, new techniques of cultural works, etc. All this will give us a know-how to find the best techniques and varieties, achieving a notable benefit and advantage in the market.
Q3: What permits Grupo Alta to participate in special breeding programs for grapes?
Polo: Around 10 years ago, the varietal replacement and the new varieties marked a change in the table grapes business, with new options of varieties with different and special flavors, similar to Cotton Candy. Divine Flavor had to adapt to that change and has been innovating to have those varieties that make us different as a business and exporter. Grupo Alta, having the experience as a well-known and successful grape producer, this led to the opportunity to participating in certain breeding programs and to continue implementing new varieties at their farms.
At Grupo Alta we manage four different breeding programs. This provides us a huge range of varieties, giving us 28 different table grapes varieties approximately- allowing us to cover markets by flavor and by season. Right now, we are working on several interesting projects, one of them is the development of exclusive software for the department, which allows us to take specific data, from pruning to harvest, in any of our experimental fields throughout the country. The objective of this software is to reduce the time of data collection and the margin of error when transferring the information.
I can also tell you that we have several very interesting new varieties and that we will soon have them in commercial production, but I can’t say more on this haha.
Q4: What can you tell us about flavor and why is it something we specialize in?
Polo: It is a commitment that we carry out as a company. Our brand is Divine Flavor, and we must honor that name. That’s why our commitment is to look for special and differentiate flavor and quality in the R&D department. It is linked to Grupo Alta’s commitment to developing varieties with good quality and an extraordinary flavor. In our department, this is and always will be a constant target. Grupo Alta, during the last 10 years, has made a firm commitment in this area, creating a department which has a very well-configured structure, having collaborators and an exclusive area for the department. All this has made genetics programs interested in working with us and allow us to have access to these new varieties that will be the future of the table grape industry. At the end of the day, we want our consumers to have the best tasting products they enjoy and come back to the stores for repeat purchases.
Q5: What is the future of grapes?
Polo: As in all crops and industries, competition is increasing and the future of grapes lies in quality, flavor and differentiation. We work hard on these 3 points, so that the future of our company is promising. We have very great facilities and operations here in Mexico and our commitment to R&D, innovation, and flavor will continue to bring us success and our customers great eating table grapes. I have always said that the climatic conditions and location of Sonora are ideal and strategic and I personally believe the best grape flavors in the world are found in Sonora. This and in addition to the fact that we are next to our largest buyer, which is North America, Sonora is a great region for the cultivation of table grapes.
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