Costa calls for urgent action from Albanese government on avocado exports

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Costa Group, Australia’s leading grower, marketing and producer of fresh fruit and vegetables, has issued an urgent plea for the Albanese Government to prioritise export market access for horticultural products into key markets.

Sean Hallahan, Costa CEO and Managing Director, said lack of access to key markets, especially Japan for Australia’s avocados was affecting the entire industry.

“It is vitally important for the new Albanese government to prioritise export market access for horticultural products into key markets, most prominently Japan,” Mr Hallahan said.

Japan imports huge volumes of avocados principally from South America, and small volumes from Western Australia. The majority of Australian avocados are however grown in Queensland, which is prevented from exporting to Japan due to Queensland Fruit Fly.

“A whole of government approach is urgently needed to gain access to Japan for eastern seaboard (QLD/NSW) grown avocados. If this can occur, then together with the access Western Australia currently has to Japan, it will provide Australian avocado growers an opportunity to supply the Japanese market on an almost year-round basis, something that no other country can do,” he said.

“Disappointingly, this is an opportunity that through lack of urgent action from government continues to go begging. I encourage both the Federal Agriculture and Trade Ministers to work together to address this issue as a matter of absolute urgency for the greater good of the avocado industry, and the economic sustainability of regional and rural communities where avocados are grown.”

Mr Hallahan said other countries, including Peru, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Canada, Mexico and the United States had successfully gained access to China and other south east Asian countries for their fresh produce.

“The common denominator at play here appears to be that these countries take a whole of government approach to trade access negotiations.”

Celebrating 50 years of Vitor

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From its roots in the Riverland region of Australia, the Vitor brand is known around the globe for its quality premium fresh produce.

Vitor originated 50 years ago as a marketing company for growers in the Renmark region, in South Australia.

Today, Vitor is one of Costa Group’s premium brands, with exports of citrus and grapes to key markets including the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Costa is Australia’s leading citrus grower and marketer with farms in the Riverland in South Australia, Sunraysia in Victoria, and in Emerald and Dimbulah in Queensland.

Elliot Jones, General Manager of Costa’s Trees and Vines category (incorporating citrus, grapes, avocados and bananas) said Vitor’s success over 50 years was a testament to the passion and experience of the people involved in growing, packing and marketing the fruit.

“From the very beginning, the number one priority has always been to provide the highest quality produce,” Elliot said.

“Over the years we have established long-term relationships with all our stakeholders including importers, distributors, and retailers. We have maintained a strong focus on the end consumers’ needs and requirements, particularly regarding quality.”

The brand began as the Vitor Citrus Co-operative (Renmark) Ltd, which was incorporated in 1972 with eight members. Its major shareholder in the early days was Yandilla Park Ltd, a company founded by Andrew Weigall.

The citrus operations at the heart of Vitor were established in the early 1970s and the first packing shed for Yandilla Park was built in 1972 on the outskirts of the town of Renmark. Andrew, who led the development of Yandilla Park Ltd, was driven by his passion for producing premium fruit and was known for pioneering new techniques and innovative horticultural practices.

By 2002, Yandilla Park properties covered 765 hectares of planted citrus, 150 hectares of wine grapes and 51 hectares of avocados. A major upgrade to the packing shed was also opened.

Coming under Costa ownership in 2006, the Riverland operations now include six farms and three packing sheds, growing oranges, mandarins as well as grapefruit, lemons, limes and avocados.

Today, Costa’s produce represents 55% of Australia’s citrus exports. Under the Vitor brand, Costa also produces table grapes which are exported to a range of Asian countries including Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea.

Throughout Vitor’s 50-year history, innovation and a commitment to quality have remained cornerstones of the brand.

“Our competitive advantages in scale of supply, packing operation, genetics, global network of customers and markets with leading B2B brands have helped us to achieve exceptional export results, particularly in the Asian markets,” Elliot said.

“We are continually looking at new varieties, to ensure we meet the need for current and future demand, and we are continuing to invest to drive higher levels of agronomic performance and optimisation in yield and quality.

“As we celebrate the past 50 years, we are also looking to the future and cementing our position as the leading individual citrus grower, packer and exporter in Australia.”

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