Research shows packaging is key to reducing food waste in fresh produce

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Today Australia’s first independent research into packaging of fresh produce has highlighted its essential role in helping to reduce food waste.

The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance (AFPA) of which Costa is a member, today released the research undertaken by RMIT and Empauer that indicates fresh produce packaging can help mitigate the estimated $20 billion of food lost or wasted in Australia every year.

The research mapped the lifecycle of 10 fresh produce items both with and without packaging. The results show that the benefits of packaging of fresh produce include product protection, extension of shelf life and the ability to communicate product information which assists consumers.

“AFPA recognises that consumers are concerned about the level of type of packaging that is used for fresh produce, what this research demonstrates is there are real practical reasons for using packaging for certain types of fresh produce,” said Michael Rogers, AFPA CEO.

“It’s shocking to think that an estimated 7.3 million tonnes of food valued at $20 billion dollars is lost or wasted every year in Australia, while rates of obesity are rising due to poor diet and low intake of fresh fruit and vegetables,” said Mr Rogers.

“It is important that consumers better understand why producers utilise particular packaging formats, whether it be to ensure product integrity in the supply chain, extend shelf life and/or reduce food waste.

“A good example demonstrated by the research is the use of punnets to package berries. The environmental impact of the waste generated from damaged, unsellable fruit actually outweighs the impact of utilisng the punnet,” said Mr Rogers.

However, the report does highlight the importance of working to reduce packaging where reasonably possible and the importance of identifying packaging that provide greater opportunities for recycling.

“AFPA members are focused on delivering the best quality fruit and vegetables to consumers to ensure all Australians have access to fruit and vegetables as part of a healthy balanced diet and are conscious of meeting this goal in the most sustainable way possible,” said Mr Rogers

‘The role of packaging for Australian fresh produce’ report and industry summary are both available to download from the Australian Fresh Produce Alliance website –

Costa demonstrates VR training technology

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Costa and Melbourne Polytechnic were proud participants in the Victorian Government’s Workforce Training Innovation Showcase held recently at the Melbourne Convention Centre.

The Victorian Minister for Training, Gayle Tierney experienced firsthand the new virtual reality (VR) mushroom harvesting training tool which is being developed by Costa, Melbourne Polytechnic and VR technology company, Liminal.

$1.6 million funding from the Victorian Government’s Workforce Training & Innovation Fund is being used to develop state-of-the-art VR technology designed to revolutionise the training of the mushroom harvesting workforce. The technology promises gains in productivity and safety – and its multi-lingual delivery is perfect for the Costa’s predominantly migrant workers, many of who have English as a second language.

The VR training environment mirrors the harvesting operations of the mushroom farm but does not impact business output. It allows potential employees to fully understand the job and skill requirements before committing to the role, allowing prospective harvesters to ‘try before they buy’.

Farming Futures Careers Fair

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Costa Tomatoes and Berries were excited to be a part of the UNE Farming Futures Careers Fair, held on July 26, to showcase Costa and promote employment opportunities within the company for agricultural graduates.

Farming Futures is aimed at exposing both university and school students to the vast opportunities that are available for graduates. The event is mutually beneficial as it enables for networking and one on one time with students and industry representatives.

Costa offers a Graduate Program through the Tomotoe category and a number of University scholarships to support students looking for a career in the agriculture and horticulture industry.