Ocozocoautla de Espinosa (Coita), Chiapas, Mexico
Last February, El Grupo Crespo opened Empaque Don Jorge II (EDJ II) in Ocozocoautla de Espinosa, Chiapas, or – as the locals call it – Coita.
This is not to be confused with Empaque Don Jorge (EDJI) – El Grupo Crespo’s original and main packhouse located in El Rosario, Sinaloa, Mexico. EDJ I’s total remodel finished last year, making it Latin America’s largest hydrothermal mango packhouse.
EDJ I took four years for its total revamp, funded in part by the direct trade business model that El Grupo Crespo began to employ several years back. This model enabled the family to re-invest in their own farms, packhouses, and operations, despite the mango category’s dwindling margins. Eliminating extra hands along the supply chain (border brokers, in particular) made this investment possible.
Over the last several years, infrastructure improvements were equally prioritized alongside growing our mango programs. Improvements to EDJ I were only one of these infrastructure improvements. Another priority was to increase volume capacity in the southern early regions, hence EDJ II which is now opening for its second season.
Older equipment at EDJ I was replaced by higher tech, modern equipment. The still fully functional equipment was sent down to Chiapas where the fully remodeled warehouse was turned into a mango packhouse in the winter of 2018. Washers, sorters, packing lines… everything exists here. This new packhouse should greatly expand the offerings for the Crespo Organic Mango program.
EDJ II is conveniently located near Tuxtla, in western Chiapas, which is attached to the main throwaways that lead north. It sits on about 2 acres of land, and the actual packhouse is about 25K ft2. Packing capacity is 4 truckloads per day. The packhouse is equipped with 4 hydrothermal tanks, 1 washing line, and 3 packing lines – one of which is fully dedicated to Crespo Organic Mangoes. Cold storage is abundant with a five truckload capacity.
The EDJ II packhouse is about a 4 to 5-day drive to El Grupo Crespo’s US warehouses, RCF Nogales and RCF McAllen. During the season (February through late April), it operates Monday through Saturday.
At peak season, the packhouse employs about 80 workers. Most workers come from the local area of Coita (Ocozocoautla) and the neighboring towns Berriozábal and Tapachula. Ruben Sanchez manages EDJII for El Grupo Crespo. He also manages EDJ I, overseeing EDJII from January through April and then Empaque Don Jorge I (EDJ I) (or the Sinaloa packhouse) from April through the end of the season. he’s a busy (and important) guy!
About two hours away, El Grupo Crespo has about 200 hectares of organic Ataulfo and Tommy Atkins orchards that feed into this packhouse.
EDJ II is now certified organic with all food safety certifications, as well as audited for labor, health, safety, and environmental practices. }
*EDJ II certifications: Global Gap, Primus GSF, USDA Organic, and SMETA audited. SMETA is an ethical trade audit that covers Sedex’s four pillars of Labor, Health, Safety, and Environment, as well as business ethics.