Take a peek inside a Mexican mango packhouse
I will never forget my first time visiting a major farm and processing center in another country. It was in Israel, and since I had heard so much about their advanced agricultural technology I was expecting something robotic and almost medicinal, glass houses and everything automated, pristine. I arrived to find plastic and cloth-screened greenhouses and dirt, a good deal of advanced technology in terms of watering and feeding systems, but mostly just farmers growing things in dirt like everyone else in the world. They were filled with the most beautiful peppers and tomatoes I had ever seen. The Israelis were, in my opinion, masters at attention to detail, and I think they excel in agricultural expertise because of this. They were methodical.
That was over ten years ago and a lot has changed since, but most farmers still grow in the dirt and the processes are relatively simple. Sure, we have begun to automate more in packing technologies using machines-like sorts and washers as a pretty standard way of processing fruits and vegetables, but mostly it is just a lot of labor and attention to detail, especially in the cold chain sector. Let us not forget that the more advanced technology we seek, the more money it costs, and often in produce the growers are working on such minimal (often single digit) margins that major advancements in technology are not attainable; labor, one of the major strengths of most large agricultural sectors, is much more attainable.
There is a broad spectrum of mango pack houses in Mexico. Some are really just screened in raised roofed facilities, with concrete slab flooring, with tables for packing, no cooling systems and not much else besides a dock for loading and unloading. There are also some of the more advanced packhouses that cater to the export markets of Japan and Korea, which have very stringent food safety and pack demands, and thus some very advanced machinery and automation, truly impressive stuff. Most of the large producers and exporters fall into the category that Empaque Don Jorge does: very large, semi-automated, older but clean refrigeration, and tight systems of food safety and general guidelines. These facilities typically can have over 500 workers during peak season, so you can imagine that they need food service facilities, large-scale restrooms and hand washing systems. Empaque Don Jorge even has a chapel on site, which is pretty common.
Come inside the mango packhouse, take a peek!