A new, cleverly named, pack house springs up to help
Our direct trade model of doing business has enabled us to re-invest in our farm, business and operations despite the dwindling margins seen in mangoes. The elimination of extra hands allows for a little room to aspire to succeed and we take this penny-pinching process seriously, In the last few years we have honed in on some important needs as our system grows. Improvements to our pack house Empaque Don Jorge (EDJI) , in Sinaloa was one of them. Increasing volume capacity in the southern early regions was another, which is this season big undertaking; a new mango pack house for El Grupo Crespo, Empaque Don Jorge II.
Over the last few years EDJI has undergone various big improvements; replacing older equipment with more modern and efficient washers, sorters, packing lines. The newer equipment is not only more efficient for food safety, made of all stainless steel, which means we do not have to spend time re-painting metal each year, but much more ergonomic and comfortable for our workforce. The improvements reduce costs, improve quality of output, and enhance on-the-job worker wellbeing. Improvements continue as needed.
As the mango category continues to grow, we determined that our southern program needed improvements. Our solid and longstanding partnership with an Oaxaca grower, whose quality and outputs are extraordinary, needed supplemental support to successfully grow with our customers. The early season continued to be of significant importance to the Mexican mango program and our customers have been looking to us to not only start earlier each season but with the high-quality product that the Crespo brand is associated with. This for us meant less hands in the mix and so in addition to our thriving program from Oaxaca, we are expanding into our own growing, packing and shipping from Chiapas.
At the end of last season, we acquired an old warehouse in Ocozocoautla, Chiapas, or, as the locals call it, Coita. This warehouse continues, in process, to being converted into El Grupo Crespo’s second pack house, cleverly named Empaque Don Jorge II (EDJII) after the grandfather of the Crespo siblings who started the family farm back in 1960. The packing house is in the final process of the remodel and will be running by mid-February and is expected to be packing and shipping Crespo Organic Mangoes at the beginning of March.
The packing house has 4 state-of-the-art hydrothermal tanks for the USDA’s required hot water treatment,over 20,000 square feet of floor space (50,000 if you include the outside docks, parking and facility space).
The packing house will employ the majority of people from the local community as well as several supervisory and managerial positions filled by existing northern EDJI staff, since the seasons are back to back. The mango packing process will employ the same methodology as EDJI.
Along with the pack house, Crespo acquired 200+ hectares of mango orchards. Most of these have now been certified organic with more in the certification process.
The new southern addition of the pack house and orchards will enable El Group Crespo to have a stronger overall position in the mango marketplace. The south is one of the most important areas in the burgeoning Mexican mango program. This location in Chiapas, coupled with the long-term partnership with our Oaxacan grower/packer, will help increase volumes to meet the growing demand of early Mexican fruit.
The packing shed will be a thriving, stand-alone mango packing business, packing El Grupo Crespo’s proprietary Crespo Organic and RCF brands while, as time/space permits, offering the service to other labels as is the same for our northern pack house EDJI.
Our direct trade model, from our partner packer and our new pack house, helps ensure product consistency since we control all outputs from the tree to the customer or the customers trucks to be clear.
We know firsthand how our direct trade model makes a big difference in delivering quality and consistency to our customers, but it also allows us to invest in what makes our systems stronger and longer lasting. This includes the livelihoods of the people who work for us – who are longstanding members of our mango communities.
Our mission and values help drive us forward. Aiming to increase the consumption of organic Mexican mangoes, by providing high-quality consistent product and commodity education. We also seek to help change and drive perceptions of Mexican-organic agriculture, people, and culture as well as develop and promote sustainable agricultural growth and markets for our Mexican land and people for generations to come.
Being mango experts isn’t easy, but I think the saying goes, someone has to do it!
Here are a few more photos of the shed and its current ongoing conversion. The packinghouse will be functioning and more photos released by the end of February!