Crystal Valley Foods sourcing program begins with planning the crop cycles with our farms, associated growers, and packing plants in Peru, Guatemala, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Crystal Valley Foods is the 4th largest importer of Peruvian asparagus in the US, and brings in Peruvian asparagus (green & white) 52 weeks a year. The Peruvian program is supplemented by Mexican asparagus in the peak Mexican harvest periods. Crystal Valley purchased farmland for asparagus in Peru to complement the grower programs that have been in place for the past 18 years.
Crystal Valley has been marketing Mexican asparagus, on a seasonal basis, for the past five seasons, and is expanding the Mexican product window with the June – September window primarily for the West Coast.
French Beans, Snow Peas, Sugar Snaps & Specialty Vegetables Crystal Valley Foods is the second largest importer of French beans from Guatemala, and is a major importer of Snow Peas, Sugar Snap Peas and specialty vegetables from Peru, Guatemala, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
These product categories have moved from the specialty foodservice market segment that they characterized 20 years ago, to the mainstream specialty retail supermarket offering in today’s environment. In order to adjust to the increased volume required to meet todays demand, along with the focus on limiting shrink and optimizing cold chain management – the harvest and packing operations in Latin America have made huge advancements in the sophistication of their farming, harvest, and post-harvest programs
- food science and laboratory personnel have joined the management teams to support the agronomists and address the areas of post-harvest.
- food safety departments have been added as vital units within the organization.
- mechanization, when feasible, is being utilized, in order to reduce labor costs, reduce contamination potential, and minimize the time from harvest to cooling and pack – all to optimize shelf life.
- Crop rotation programs must be developed combining IPM programs (integrated pest management ) to optimize productivity and minimize pest development.
- Farm productivity is based on using the latest technology in deep wells, drip irrigation, fertigation programs, IPM programs, and strict controls over pesticides and herbicides. Keeping up-to-date on new varieties is also critical.
- Harvest programs are closely coordinated with logistics – using the appropriate AIR FREIGHT and OCEAN FREIGHT carriers to maintain both the cold chain and optimize shelf life on arrival in the market.
Peruvian Asparagus Harvest
-Packing Facilities are operated under strict sanitation and hygiene regulations and the majority include in-house microbiological labs for routine swab testing of process surfaces and basic product testing. This is supplemented via 3rd party laboratories for pesticide residue screen testing.
Cold chain management is one of the CORE responsibilities of the packing faciliities, besides proper grading, selection, and packing:
- Field heat is removed from product via hydrocooling using chlorinated well water, in most cases combined with citric acid and an ORP monitoring system. Some packing plants have opted for the use of paracetic acid due to it’s high effectiveness.
- Modern cold storage rooms with panelized insulated walls are used to hold product from pack to loading trucks or sea containers for transport to market.
- Most specialty products are hand packed after the appropriate washing, grading, and QC selection.
Greenhouse Baby Heirloom Tomato
Offshore greenhouse production in unique micro-climates in Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico, have become excellent supply partners for consistent supplies of high quality specialty products such as gourmet tomatoes and colored bell peppers.