Costa has been a long-term supporter of scholarships at the University of Tasmania and has recently signed up to fund undergraduate and Honours scholarships for another four years. These scholarships provide valuable support helping regional students pursue a university qualification, with a particular focus on agriculture.
Emma Nightingale was the first recipient of the Costa’s Honours scholarship back in 2016 and went on to join Costa, becoming a key member of the horticulture team in Tasmania. You can hear her story in the video below.
Costa is trialling innovative laser etching technology on hard-skinned fruit to remove the need for fruit stickers as part of its focus on developing sustainable packaging alternatives for its fresh produce.
PLU (price look-up) fruit stickers are used on individual pieces of fruit to convey price and in some cases contain QR codes to provide further provenance information, however they are generally not recyclable.
Gilad Sadan, creative directive of NAVI Co Global, is partnering with Costa in the development of a range of sustainable packaging solutions and is working with Result Group’s Eco Mark on the laser technology.
“This innovative new technology gives us the ability to laser etch the avocado without impacting the produce at all. It removes the need for the PLU sticker, which are mostly not recyclable. There are some compostable stickers, but they are very expensive,” Gilad said.
At the recent Asia Fruit Logistic expo in Hong Kong, Costa’s avocados were on display with the Australian made logo etched on the skin.
The EcoMark Natural Branding removes or causes a pigment change in only the outmost layer of the fruit or vegetable peel. The laser beam remains so close to the surface that fruit and vegetables are completely intact beneath their skin or peel and shelf life is not impacted.
“We are still in the trial stages, but we think that has the potential to be a genuine replacement for PLU stickers which will be a win for the environment and our consumers.”
A team of Pacific Island workers from the Costa Berries Corindi farm in New South Wales volunteered their time to work with the local Emerald Beach Landcare group and National Parks and Wildlife Service recently.
The group, from Fiji, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands worked on their day off to remove Senna and Lantana weeds which have been choking out native plants in the regional park north of Emerald Beach. This area has been recently added to the national park estate and their efforts will go a long way to getting it back to its natural condition.
The local Emerald Beach Landcare coordinator Graham Tupper thanked the group for their contribution in getting the regional park back to its pre-settlement condition with more food and homes for the birds and wildlife.
“So great to see the community effort, now stretching across the Pacific Ocean, to help restore and protect our local habitats,” he said.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service put on lunch for the group, who also performed a beautiful hymn in the bush setting.
Costa’s 2024 Graduate Program is now open for applications.
Our Graduate Program aims to train and develop growers of the future by providing an intensive hands-on and educational experience across a multitude of key departments within the Costa Group over a 12 or 18-month period.
Rotations within and/or across different regions and business categories will include time in our nurseries, glasshouses, packing sheds, farms and agronomy teams.
Graduates will gain an insight into what happens after the product leaves the farm through exposure to the sales and marketing functions based in our Melbourne head office, as well as access to senior leaders.
Kimberley Tong, who participated in the 2022-2023 Costa Graduate Program, said the 18-month program had given her a clearer idea of what she wanted to.
“I never really thought I would end up in the agribusiness industry but after completing this graduate program, I can say with certainty that there is no better field nor company to start one’s journey,” Kimberley said.
“Coming out of university, I didn’t really know what pathway to take, so being offered the opportunity to travel the country while learning and broadening my knowledge in different areas of the horticulture sector was irresistible.
“These 18 months have helped me develop a clearer idea of what I want to do and how I want to contribute to the industry, but ultimately, it’s the support from everyone I’ve met and their eagerness to share their wealth of expertise that has been truly rewarding.”
The Program is open to anyone who is in the final year or finished a Bachelor or postgraduate degree in agriculture, science, agribusiness, horticulture or business.
Applications are open from August 1 to September 1. Find out more.
Tammy Degroot has done pretty much every job at the 9 Mile Berry farm in Tasmania, putting her in prime position to take on the role of Blueberry Farm Manager.
The first female to manage a farm within Costa’s Australian Berry Category, Tammy said she was excited about the opportunity.
Tammy, who lives in Penguin with her family, started with Costa in 2010 when the third stage of the 9 Mile blueberry farm was being planted. She had previously been working a number of jobs including in hospitality, running the canteen at her sons’ school, and at a chicken farm.
“Our own farm overlooked the blueberry farm and I had watched the farm expanding so I thought I’d give it a go.”
After two years Tammy moved into a supervisor role and for the last four years she has been managing the harvest operations.
“There isn’t anything on this farm I haven’t done. I like all aspects of the blueberry farm and just really enjoy coming to work.
“For a number of years I have been working towards this role. When Rob Saggus moved here to Tasmania from the Corindi Berry farm he saw the potential in me and has been guiding me,” she said.
Cameron Folder, Tasmanian Regional Manager, congratulated Tammy on her promotion.
“Tammy’s experience equips her well for this new challenge and I am especially pleased that Tammy has been able to progress through the business to take this position,” he said.
Rob Saggus, who was the previous farm manager, has moved into the role of Raspberry Farm Manager.
Rob has also been a long-standing employee having worked for Costa for 25 years, working his way from fruit picker to irrigator to operations manager in Corindi before moving to Tasmania to lead the blueberry team for the past five years.
Leaving your wife and five children to work in Australia is not easy, but for Leonard Ale it’s worth the sacrifice to help realise his dream.
Leonard is one of the many thousands of people who come to work in Australia from the Pacific Islands, through the Federal Government’s Pacific Australia Labour Mobility program. He has just arrived in Australia for his second placement with Costa Berries in Corindi.
Leonard’s goal is to make sure children in his Solomons Islands community have access to education and one day have the chance to become the country’s future doctors, teachers and members of parliament.
Leonard has been instrumental in building the Mount Beata Community Primary School, situated outside of the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara.
With money earned during his first stint in Australia he was able to donate $2000 (the equivalent of more than $10,000 Solomon Island dollars) to the ongoing development of the school.
It is supported by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which provides teachers. The school, which has classes for prep through to Year 6, now has 154 students. Mojo Surf, which provides accommodation for seasonal workers in Arrawarra, also made a donation to the school last year.
“There are not many primary schools in the Solomon Islands and people can’t afford to pay. The main reason I came here to Australia was to help the school. It’s not just for my wife and children, it’s for the nation as well,” he said.
“My dream is to one day build another classroom and staff facilities,” Leonard said.
Leonard first came to Australia in October 2021, working at the Corindi Berry farm in maintenance and the packing shed.
While he’s in Australia, Leonard’s wife looks after the family piggery and cares for the children. Despite having to leave his family, Leonard said he was grateful for the opportunity to work in Australia.
“I really appreciate the Australian Government and the Australia people because in my country there is no opportunity for jobs.”
Leonard said while there were a lot of university qualified people in the Solomon Islands, many could not find employment.
Through the PALM scheme, approved employers can recruit workers for seasonal jobs for up to nine months or for longer-term roles for between one and 4 years in unskilled, low-skilled and semi-skilled positions.
The PALM scheme is designed to help fill labour shortages in rural and regional Australia. It allows Pacific and Timor-Leste workers to take up jobs in Australia, develop their skills and send income home. Under the Scheme there are a range of requirements and regulations relating to accommodation and transport.
“I am here to work and Australia is such a beautiful and peaceful country. The people here are very friendly and welcoming.”
Costa has published its third Modern Slavery Statement, covering the calendar year December 27, 2021 to January 1, 2023.
The Statement, which has been lodged on the Modern Slavery Statement Register, outlines the ongoing actions we are taking to address and mitigate the risk of modern slavery within our operations and our supply chain, and where possible identify areas of improvement in our approach to human rights.
As Australia’s leading producer of fresh fruit and vegetables and with international operations in China and Morocco, we take seriously the role we play in protecting and promoting the human rights of workers in our business and across our supply chain.
In 2022, our focus has been on advancing the understanding and awareness of human rights across our business and ensuring our processes and actions properly protect human rights. Read more in our Statement below.
Three new apprentices have joined the Costa Tomato operations in Guyra.
Neil Ashman, Andrew Pearson and Marty Ryan, who all come from the Guyra region, have started boilermaking apprenticeships, giving them a broad range of skills required in the maintenance of the glasshouse operation.
“Costa is very proud to support Neil, Andrew and Marty in the development of their careers and their skills are very important to the smooth operations of our Tomato glasshouse business,” Scot MacDonald, Costa State Manager, said.
“We hope this is the start of a long and successful career with the company. Facilitating training and jobs in Guyra for the upcoming generation is a win for these men, the Guyra community and the future of agriculture.”
Neil, Andrew and Marty, will be attending TAFE in Armidale as part of their Certificate III in Engineering and Metal Fabrication.
Marty Ryan, who went to school at Ben Lomond and Guyra schools before boarding at Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School in Tamworth, started working full-time with Costa towards the end of last year.
“I had wanted to get into the workforce but there weren’t a whole lot of opportunities in the region. Then I was offered an opportunity to do work experience with Costa. I did two days’ work experience and that sold me. Ever since I was about four years old I have wanted to build things and work with my hands,” Marty said.
“Joey Mills and Michael Fowler are an absolute pleasure to work for. It’s pretty amazing to have this opportunity to work with a leading producer in the food industry. We are getting lots of opportunities working in this field as it is a very diverse company.”
Costa Maintenance Manager Joey Mills said he was honoured to have the new apprentices join his team.
Photo courtesy of Guyra Gazette: from left Brett Ryan, HR Manager, Andrew Pearson, Marty Ryan, Joey Mills, Maintenance Manager, Neil Ashman and Scot MacDonald, State Manager.
Costa’s African Blue business has been operating in Morocco since 2007 and now has circa 465 hectares of farms coming from both own farms and third-party growers.
In a strategic move to broaden African Blue’s market reach and extend seasonal supply of blueberries to its customer base, African Blue has licensed Costa varieties to growers within Southeast Africa (South Africa and Zimbabwe and Zambia) to create a counter-seasonal supply of blueberries to African Blue, Morocco.
One of these licenced projects is managed under a Zimbabwe based company Direct from Source, in which 11 growers are aggregated to supply fruit to be marketed by African Blue to its Asian and European customers.
Located close to the capital of Zimbabwe, Harare – the growers, through Direct from Source, are responsible for around 15% of the total annual African Blue sales volume.
Costa’s licenced growers were among some of the first blueberry growers in the region, with the first plantings in 2018. This grower group now has farms covering over 300 hectares, with currently adopted varieties of Kirra, Akala, Corindi Verdure and Arana. Arana is shaping up as grower favourite with capacity to service the Asian market with a premium product and higher price returns.
The farming locations in Zimbabwe have a similar climate and latitude to Far North Queensland, Australia (where Costa has a significant blueberry operation geared towards early season production).
For this reason, there are lot of opportunities that stem from blueberry variety development from the Costa Variety Improvement Program (FNQ), with a high chance that varieties developed from this low latitude program will be high performers for Zimbabwe in the future. In the next three years the farmers will progressively take up some of the new Costa varieties: Breeze, Delight, Eterna and Cascade.
Each of the farms has its own pack shed, and fruit is sent to market destinations via either air or sea freight logistics.
Berry International Horticultural Manager Greg Murdoch said the aim was to have fruit from this region in the period from August to October, following on from the Moroccan growing season which ends in June.
“The international blueberry market price increases around August to September and our main competition comes from Peru. We focus on supplying quality, premium fruit and we aim to maintain very good quality control,” Greg said.
Deon Kirstein, who previously worked in the berry industry in Coffs Harbour, is now based in Zimbabwe and manages the grower support function in that region.
Costa Group Holdings Limited, Australia’s leading grower, packer and marketer of fresh fruit and vegetables, has released its 2022 Sustainability Report.
Our Report provides key data on our actions across our 10 Sustainable Commercial Farming principles and includes metrics relating to water use and water efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption and production.
For the first time, we have quantified our waste streams across our geographically diverse farming operations. This is a significant step towards our goal of minimising waste to landfill and creating a circular, closed loop waste management system.
Our Report also includes our actions in areas including biodiversity, community, workforce, climate change and production yield.
Key highlights include:
Costa is a member of the Australian packaging Covenant Organisation and is on track to meet the 2025 targets.
More than 60% of our waste is mulched, recycled or reused by third parties.
Four sites producing solar energy including a new floating solar array.
437 tonnes of produce donated to Foodbank in 2022 – the equivalent of 862,600 meals.
New technology for tree crop mapping and yield forecasting.
Expansion of protected cropping.
Irrigation sensing technology to optimise water use.
Costa has teamed up with Coles for the third year in a row to support the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Foundation.
To launch the program, Costa hosted Sunrise weather presenter Sam Mac, Coles Ambassador Courtney Roulston and Natasha Grogan from the Foundation at our Tomato glasshouses in Guyra on February 1.
We also had a wonderful group of children and families from the Guyra Central School who joined in the activities.
From February 1 until February 28, Coles will donate 5 cents from every punnet of Costa grown Perino red or gold tomatoes sold, to the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation to the value of $100,000.
This is the third year in a row that Costa has partnered with Coles to support the Foundation, which delivers pleasurable food education in a fun, hands-on approach to teach children and young people about fresh, seasonal, delicious food so they form positive food habits for life in schools all over Australia.
Through the support from companies including Costa and Coles, the Foundation has been able to expand its reach beyond primary school age children to include pre-school, primary and high school students.
Head into your local Coles stores and purchase a pack of Perino naturally sweeter tomatoes for your lunch time snack and to support the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation.