It was nearly 16 years ago when the Divine Flavor company formed and the first shipments of produce were sent to supermarkets. The year was 2006 when CEO of Grupo Alta, Alan Aguirre, and Carlos Bon, then-sales manager, joined forces with Pedro Batiz to create a brand that would eventually go on to be known as a grower/shipper of Mexican table grapes and bell peppers. These gentlemen, aside from the years of experience and background in the produce industry, all had another commonality: each came from the same family. It was this connection that contributed to the company’s success in the early years. But later, and as the company grew, it would become a central theme to Divine Flavor’s farm foundation: working with other family-oriented producers who believe and represent the same values as Divine Flavor.
In the Caborca region of Sonora, an important area to the later part of the Mexico grape program, there lies a group of growers who harvest and pack grapes for the Divine Flavor label. One grower is El Parral, a multi-generational grower who’s been working with Divine Flavor for close to a decade. The majority of Divine Flavor’s grape production comes from the vineyards of Grupo Alta. But as demand has grown, and to better help the later part of the Sonora grape season, Divine Flavor has established strategic partnerships with growers in various Sonoran regions.
The El Parral team. The central theme of Divine Flavor’s farm foundation: working with other family-oriented producers who believe and represent the same values as Divine Flavor.
“Having strong family roots has been an essential factor to our success at Grupo Alta and Divine Flavor,” said Bon, now vice-president of sales of Divine Flavor. “If you look at some of the most successful growers in Mexico, they all come from good families. The reason for their longevity is because family-oriented companies have stronger bonds within their organization. They have more passion and their dedication to their farm produces excellent results which is what we look for when working with external partners.”
El Parral was formed in the early 1980s by Juan Angel Juarez Aviña. At the time, they were one of the first grape growers in the Caborca region producing Thompsons. As with many growers in the 80s who wanted to grow grapes, it was a challenging period. It was difficult to find companies to purchase the grapes and distribute their product. Though, as the years went by, Aviña was able to navigate the company through adversity and he eventually passed the torch to both his daughter Beatriz Juarez Gutiérrez, who is now the current owner, and his grandson, Juan Gonzalo Balderas Juarez, who acts as the company’s CEO. In 2016, Juan Gonzalo was introduced to Bon, and since then, El Parral has worked with Divine Flavor.
“Divine Flavor represents the top of the market in grapes and their other products, and working with them has been a tremendous opportunity for our company,” said Gonzalo. “As a grower, one of the most important factors will always be the pricing. But to work with Divine Flavor, you have to meet a certain level of expectation and comply with all the requirements to pack their label. My biggest impression of them is they push us to be better growers and get to the next level as they do with their farms at Grupo Alta. For us, all the hard work is worth it.”
Beatriz Juarez Gutiérrez and Juan Gonzalo Balderas Juarez.
Juarez Gutiérrez says the company’s journey has been a long and challenging one. But their commitment to their farm and the people who work there are the main reason why the company is what it is today. “At our farm, we don’t label our people as workers. We refer to all our staff as collaborators,” said Juarez Gutiérrez. “Something we want each collaborator to know and feel, which I believe we’ve achieved, is that they are part of the team and the El Parral family.”
Beatriz first started off as her father’s administrative assistant. She eventually took over in 1986 when her father was dealing with health issues and for the next 16 years, she ran and operated the El Parral farm until her son, Juan Gonzalo, joined in 2002.
"We refer to all our staff as collaborators,” said Juarez Gutiérrez.
“I thank god I was able to prepare my son Juan for this business and I see how he’s developed a passion for growing grapes over the years and continuing our family business,” said Juarez Gutiérrez. “When Juan first told me about our new partnership with Divine Flavor and that he spoke with Carlos Bon Jr., this made me very confident as I knew his father, Carlos Bon Sr., who was an exceptional man in this industry.”
El Parral is one of the many agricultural partners of the Divine Flavor group and each of them has a unique story of how their business came to life. For the marketing and distribution company, their vision of being a year-round supplier of all their products has become much more of a reality in the past few seasons due to the partnerships they’ve created throughout the years with other family-oriented farmers.
“We work and operate in a very challenging industry,” said Bon. “We are very proud of the partners we have that complement our farms and that have allowed us to grow into what we are today. They are very much a part of this group and a part of our Divine Flavor family.”