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Empaque Don Jorge II Opens for the Season

February 26, 2020

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.

Culture, Featured, Kitchen, People

Día de Muertos

November 1, 2019

Mi padre es tu padre

Para una versión en inglés haga clic aquí

Una de las cosas que nos conecta a todos en esta vida es la muerte, la comida es otra. Desde que mi padre falleció hace unos años, me di cuenta que me conecto con ciertas personas de manera más auténtica, especialmente aquellas cuyos padres, a quienes también estaban cerca, hayan muerto. Para muchos de nosotros el sentimiento de “vacío” que ahora llevamos dentro de nosotros nos conecta…de alguna manera nos magnetiza. La pérdida en general nos conecta, lo que tiende a recordarme que la vida debería.

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Culture, Featured, Kitchen, People

Day of the Dead

November 1, 2019

Mi padre es tu padre, celebrate life

Click HERE for a version of the post in Spanish

One of the things that connects us all in this life is food and certainly thats a big one for me, death is another obvious connector. I noticed since my father passed a few years back that I connect with certain people more authentically, especially with those whose fathers, to whom they too were close, have passed. For many of us the feeling of “lack” that we now carry inside us, connects us…magnetizes us. Loss in general connects us, which tends to somehow trigger and remind me that to celebrate life.

I think the ancient and traditional Day of the Dead (“Día de Muertos”) ceremonies, beliefs and celebrations practiced throughout Mexico – and many parts of the world where Mexican populations live and work – are a wonderful example of just that. Day of the Dead customs or traditions seem totally undervalued in Western culture, and as I have been contemplating my own aging and my own sense of belonging (especially after my father passed shortly before a serious breakup), I feel a yearning for more ritual, more tradition and more community in my own life. When I look at so many of the traditions of the world that date back thousands of years, I see so many of them still thriving today in connecting people. I see the Mexican population today, not so as much “religious” but as extremely spiritual people,  moving, and evolving through this life as best they can with  their family, loved ones,  and communities  front and center to it all…and I think that’s beautiful. Continue Reading…

Culture, Farm, Featured, People, Secrets & Lies

Empaque Don Jorge (Agricola Crespo)

May 22, 2019

Mango Holding Area, Empaque Don Jorge, El Rosario, Sinaloa Mexico

Boasting the most efficient and modern mango pack house around

Disclaimer: This is a boastful and prideful post about a packing house that I truly believe in. I’m one of a few globally well-traveled industry folks with an extremely diverse make up of commodities, markets, cultures and systems. I have seen a lot of packing houses and “sheds” in my travels and this one is my personal favorite- which is why I’ work with them. Boasting this facility and the Crespo’s is the natural outcome of my true beliefs.

 

We don’t talk enough about packing houses in our business yet this is the one place that usually solves and/or causes most problems in terms of product quality and food safety. Most fruits and vegetables are harvested and then brought to a packing house or shed where they are then packed into various bulk or retail packaging. These large and small sorting/packing hubs serve as the distribution outlet for the farm  and/or the farmers. These facilities can be modern, elaborate, high tech, clean and simple, dirty and even  bare bones covered (shaded) tables where things like fresh herbs are packed right out of the field.

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Culture, Featured, Kitchen, People

Celebrating Mexico & All Things Mango

August 1, 2018

Bay Area Consumers and Buyers Co-Mingle with Farm to Table Mangoes

“The experience of being alongside consumers in this format was so rewarding. It wasn’t about selling or being sold to, so it was natural and easy. Everyone was there to enjoy food (heavily featuring mangoes in all different ways, some obvious and some creative.) I found the conversation was comfortable because everyone has the common experience of great food, drinks and company.  Loved the evening and the excitement it created. The “party favor”, a case of Crespo Organic Mangoes was the perfect send-off to keep the evening fresh in mind.” Maroka Kawamura, Produce/Floral Program and Category Manager New Leaf Community Market

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Culture, Featured, Secrets & Lies

I don’t like to be called “Honey”

April 8, 2017

…and neither does the Ataulfo Mango

I can’t tell you how many times I have been called Lisa, Melissa, Alissa, and, even, Carissa when various adults have had to read my name, Nissa, aloud. The very existence of the name Nissa (pronounced Niss like kiss with the soft “a” pronounced like uh = Nissuh) baffles most Americans. Most people pronounce it like Lisa, fearing the mallet of mispronunciation, but I never mind when people mess up my name. In fact, half the world calls me Nee-sa because it’s easier for many of the world’s tongues. Many cultures struggle with the pronunciation of the sharp “i”. What I do mind is when, in order to avoid saying it wrong, they refuse to try. I imagine it’s all fear-based—fear of sounding stupid, fear of making a mistake. Whatever the case may be, it’s time for all of us to get to know each other’s names along with the accents and cultures they come from. To sound silly is a worthwhile sacrifice to make when learning new words—to try is to connect in all of our humanness. As Americans, we need rise to the challenge and embrace diversity in all its forms. To embrace, and celebrate, diversity is to be on the right side of history. We can start as simply as confronting our fear of mispronunciation, getting to know names we deem too ethnic and too unusual.

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Culture, Featured, Kitchen

Sinaloa Hot Sauce: What Grows Together, Goes Together

May 23, 2016

 Habenro Sauce Mango Rice Bowl

Saucy & Sweet

Mangoes are one of the biggest agricultural products from Sinaloa, Mexico. In the U.S., mango consumption peaks in the summertime, which coincides with the peak production of mangoes in the Sinaloa region. America’s massive mango demand makes them one of the most important products in Mexico. Empaque Don Jorge, the packinghouse for El Grupo Crespo and home of Crespo Organic Mangoes, is located in Rosario, also an important habanero production zone. Habaneros were one of the first crops and exports for El Grupo Crespo, originally a chili pepper business started in 1960 for the local market.

Chilies are one of Mexico’s heritage crops and habaneros are the chili of choice in Sinaloa. Brought over for agricultural production from the Yucatan area, habaneros were discovered to grow very well in and around Rosario, producing a good amount of heat (but not as much as in other production zones ), registering between 200,000-300,000 on the Scoville scale, on average and having a specific almost tropical taste. The great yields, coupled with the exquisite flavor profile that resulted from the area, led way to Rosario’s booming habanero industry.

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