By - Keith Loria
Divine Flavor is a family-run and grower-owned distribution company that believes in growing “Better Food for a Better World.”
It’s a philosophy that harkens back 30 years when Don Enrique Camou, Carlos Bon Sr. and Alan Aguirre teamed to create Viñedos Alta (now Grupo Alta), a small table grape vineyard based on values taught at their respective family farms. In 2006, Aguirre and Carlos Bon Jr. teamed up with Pedro Batiz to form Divine Flavor, now part of the Grupo Alta portfolio.
Divine Flavor Headquarters
Headquartered in Nogales, Ariz., the family-run Divine Flavor’s entry into organics was grapes and golden peaches from Sonora in 2006, and over the last 13 years, has added numerous organic products.
“We started doing a little acreage, and back then, organic farming was double the cost of conventional and there was so little available that prices were incredibly high,” says Carlos Bon, sales manager for the company. “We found there were opportunities to be more efficient on the growing side to lower the costs and have organics accessible for everyone, and that’s what we focused on and where we are today.” In 2019, Divine Flavor is growing close to 3,000 acres of organic produce and continuing to increase production year by year.
Carlos Bon, Sales Manager, Divine Flavor
“There’s a growing demand that doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon and we’re getting better and better every year at it,” Bon says. “We are more efficient and more cost conscious and we plan to keep growing more organics and specialize in it.”
The company does grow conventional produce as well, a strategic decision because Bon notes a lot of customers who appreciate organics have a challenge logistics-wise to get the items to the distribution centers, and the best way to do that is compliment it with conventional items.
“Logistics is the main challenge, but the more organic demand grows, the easier that part will be,” Bon says. “The hardest part is getting all these organic items to the consumers across the country because freight rates have been going up considerably.”
Another challenge going forward, he believes, is supply keeping up with demand. Divine Flavor will continue increasing its acreage and helping to meet that need.
“We are very efficient and we can grow organic at a lower cost than most people can, and we have access to resources and a lot of land,” Bon says. “Partnering with companies like us is going to allow retailers to fulfill the demand they are facing.”
Both Bon’s father and uncle were very health conscious and started farming sustainably from the very beginning, teaching their growers (and Bon) how to grow with compost, something that continues in Sonora today.
“We also have a lab where we do good fungi and good bacteria, which fight the bad fungus and bugs,” Bon says. “It was in our interest to create more nutritious and safer food, so when the whole organic movement came, it was an easy transition for us.”
Divine Flavor grows organic grapes, melons, tomatoes, bell peppers, mini peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and many other vegetables.
“We are a very large company and grow a great deal of organic table grapes, but it never seems to be enough,” Bon says. “The demand grows with the same customers as the stores see organic sales going up every year. We’ve done a good job being able to supply their needs every year.”
There are still plenty of opportunities the company sees ahead to grow further on the organic side. It’s goal in 2019 is to grow year-round and is looking for more acreage in areas around the country.
“Our growth percentage on organics has been in the double digits already and I think we’ll continue to see that in the next couple of years as we’re barely touching the surface with these items,” Bon says. “We’re going to keep looking to be more aggressive on cost for the consumer and the retailer and be able to get more organics affordable to more people.”