Costa Berries supports university scholarships

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Australia’s leading horticultural company Costa has announced two new ongoing university scholarships to encourage and assist students studying agriculture related degrees.

The two scholarships supported by the Costa Berry Category are worth $5000 each a year and will be offered through the University of New England and the University of Queensland.

These new scholarships are in addition to the Costa North-West Scholarship in Agricultural Science and the Costa Honours Scholarship in Agricultural Science, offered through the University of Tasmania.

“The Costa Berry Category has a strong commitment to supporting the industry and the communities in which it operates,” said Mr Stuart Costa, General Manager of the Berry Category.

“A skilled workforce provides benefits to our business and the industry as a whole and also provides lasting employment opportunities for the people in our regions who wish to pursue a career in horticulture.”

Costa Berries operates farms in Corindi and Tumbarumba, in New South Wales, the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland, Gingin in Western Australia, and the North-West coast of Tasmania.

“As a major employer in the regions in which we operate, we are pleased to provide support and assistance for local people wanting to pursue a university qualification.”

The scholarships, which target second year university students, are offered through the University of New England and the University of Queensland.

Building A Better Future Together

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The Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH) has been providing health education and information to women in the workplace and in the general community for over thirty years and also works with other organisations to conduct research, advocacy and community-specific projects.

Costa has partnered with the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health for a number of years participating in the Industry Visits Program at the Mernda facility a number of times.

Funded by the government, this is a very flexible health education program conducted in the workplace that is specifically designed for women from immigrant and refugee backgrounds.

Costa is proud to sponsor the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health celebration of their 40th Anniversary: Migrant Women Matter on Thursday 25th October the Clarendon Ballroom, the Langham Hotel

All proceeds from ticket sales and raffle prizes/silent auction will go to continuing the legacy of keeping migrant women’s health in migrant women’s hands.

Applications open for 2019 Costa North-West Scholarship in Agricultural Science

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A $40,000 scholarship is on offer for students looking to study agriculture at the University of Tasmania in 2019.

Costa, Australia’s leading horticultural company and one of the State’s major employers, is providing ongoing support for anyone keen to pursue a career in agriculture.

The Costa North-West Scholarship in Agricultural Science, worth $10,000 a year, is now open for applications from people looking to start a full-time undergraduate degree in agriculture at the University of Tasmania in 2019.

Dylan Bellchambers, who completed his schooling at Ulverstone High School and Don College, is the 2018 recipient of the Costa North-West Scholarship in Agricultural Science. He grew up in Ulverstone and worked during school holidays on his uncle’s crop and livestock farm.

“It’s not something I was expecting. I am the first in my family to go to university and they are very proud, but before the scholarship, my Mum was particularly worried about how I was going to pay for the upfront costs at University,” Dylan said.

“I encourage everyone thinking of studying agriculture to apply, the scholarship is far more than financial support, it extends to opportunities for direct engagement with Costa. For myself this has been extremely valuable in enabling insight into leading current and emerging horticultural practices from highly skilled and passionate employees at Costa.”

Costa also supports Honours students through the Costa Honours Scholarship in Agricultural Science, valued at $10,000 for one year.

Emma Nightingale, the inaugural recipient of the Honours scholarship, started working with Costa two days after her final exam, and Ella Roper, who was the 2017 recipient, also gained employment straight after university.

“The scholarship enabled me to move up to Devonport while I was at uni, to do my sampling. I got to meet the horticultural team at Costa and then they offered me a position when I finished my degree,” Ella said.

The scholarships are administered by the University of Tasmania Advancement Office and are provided for education purposes to be used at the discretion of the recipient to cover study and living costs while attending the University of Tasmania in Hobart.

For information visit the University of Tasmania website at http://apply.scholarships.utas.edu.au/.  The Costa scholarship can be found under the scholarship listings and is titled ‘Costa North-West Scholarship in Agricultural Science’ and ‘Costa Honours Scholarship in Agricultural Science’.

 Applications close on October 31.

Delicious Costa Mushrooms burgers served up free in support of the Mernda Rail open day!

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Costa Mushroom category joins the Mernda railway community open day serving delicious and nutritious vegetarian mushroom burgers.  Families and residents of all ages showed up to test the new trains in preparation for the official opening on Sunday 26th August.  Despite the harsh weather, the rain and winds didn’t keep the people away!   

Celebrating the first rail line in 60 years with the project delivered ahead of schedule, this much needed rail system is designed to help ease travel time and access for commuters in the local community.

Supporting this event was local MP member Danielle Green who addressed the locals quoting “I look forward to welcoming visitors travelling by train to our wonderful region from next month. This long-awaited investment will be welcomed by Mernda locals.

Our hearty veggie burgers were a hit with the residents – serving up to 1000 veggie burgers that day, we were delighted to see our mushrooms so popular amongst the crowds.

The event allowed Costa mushroom an opportunity to engage with local residents – promoting our fresh, clean and flavourful mushrooms, many were intrigued as to where they could purchase our products – the answer is at your local retail stores!

Mushrooms are not only easy to cook and prepare, they also come as a great subsidiary for vegetarians who crave that juicy and meaty texture in food.

We hope by showcasing our mushrooms, customers would understand the simplicity and versatility of having mushrooms added to their meal.

Costa Berry Category wins award for professional development

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The Costa Berry Category’s commitment to providing ongoing training and development for its staff has been recognised at the annual Sunny’s Business Awards, run by the Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce.

The Costa Berry Category was the recipient of the award for Professional Development and Staff Training, which recognises businesses that provide ongoing training to their staff – both in house or through external training organisations.

David Jordan, General Manager of the Berry Category, said the award was recognition of the emphasis Costa placed on providing a learning and development framework across the whole business.

“People are at the heart of the Costa business and we are committed to providing opportunities for our team members to develop long-term careers,” Mr Jordan said.

“We also acknowledge the important role we play as a major regional employer to contribute to the long-term development and sustainability of our communities.”

Led by a small but dedicated Human Resources team, a raft of new training programs have been designed, developed and delivered. In addition to the training programs, Costa has also implemented a traineeship program, working with local high schools and VET providers to offer new job opportunities across the regions in which it operates.

A berry good start to the day

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Our berry team at Corindi on the North Coast of New South Wales has engaged with a local high school to provide students with access to a healthy and nutritious breakfast.

 The Orara High School’s Breakfast Club provides meals to around 40 students a day and Costa supports the program, providing complementary fresh berries on a weekly basis for the school.

Breakfast is a vital meal and according to the Australian Red Cross the benefits of a school breakfast program for students who have not had breakfast at home includes providing essential nutrition for children and adolescents, better health and learning outcomes, socialisation and increased participation and engagement at school.

CONSUMER ALERT – FOOD RECALL

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Following discovery of damage to plastic rollers on a packaging line at its Victorian mushroom production facility, the Costa Mushroom category has issued a consumer alert advising that some punnets of sliced mushrooms could contain large pieces of white plastic, and that the product is being recalled.

Sliced mushrooms sold in plastic bags are not affected by this alert.

As soon as the issue was detected, even though there were no reported incidents, Costa advised food safety authorities of the intention to conduct a recall, and retailers were notified to withdraw the product from sale. 

While the probability of consumer impact is extremely low, and the large pieces of white inert plastic would be highly visible, consumers who have not used the sliced mushrooms are advised to return the product to the store of purchase to receive a full refund.

 Please see the Food Recall notice below:

Costa raises funds for Tolga State School in Great Wheelbarrow Race

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Congratulations to the Costa Berries Far North Queensland team who recently took part in the 140km Great Wheelbarrow Race, raising more than $4,000 for the Tolga State School.

The race honours the pioneers who pushed their wheelbarrows full of possessions from the coast to the Atherton Tablelands in the Gold Rush era. Regional Farm Manager Rob King said it was the first year a Costa team had been involved.

“We are very pleased to have raised more than $4,000 for the small Tolga State School, which will put the money towards updating science kits for the primary school children in their science studies curriculum hopefully to educate the next generation of aspiring horticulturists,” Rob said.

The Great Wheelbarrow Race is now in its 15th year and attracts more than 40 teams, who push a wheelbarrow from the small town of Chillagoe to Mareeba, following the Wheelbarrow Way.

Thanks to the following sponsors of the Costa Berry team: Barron Valley Hotel; Costa Avocados & Bananas; Tully Welding Works; Jason Cummings Electrical Service; Tableland Pump & Irrigation Repairs & Service; Landmark; and Peter Buckley Bobcat & Excavations Pty Ltd.

Costa supports reading and literacy at St Mary’s Parish Primary School in Whittlesea, Victoria

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Costa’s mushroom farm located at Mernda in the northern suburbs of Melbourne enjoys supporting its local community through developing relationships with local schools in the City of Whittlesea. One of these schools is St Mary’s Parish Primary School, a semi-rural school situated on eight acres of land. Last year, Costa donated two truckloads (40 cubic metres) of mushroom compost for the preparation of the ground for a new orchard which was planted in the school grounds.

Costa has now donated $6,000 to St Mary’s to assist with building the literacy skills of both the students and parent community.

These funds will be used to purchase:

  • Home reading books for Years 3-6 students including multiple titles of popular kids’ books written by authors such as Andy Griffiths, Paul Jennings and Roald Dahl
  • Picture story books and novels for all students
  • Sets of novels for Years 5-6 students for participation in a Book Club program for advanced readers
  • Novels for the introduction of a Parents’ Book Club to promote reading in the parent community

These new resources will add to the literacy activity already undertaken in the City Whittlesea, including the giving of free books to local kindergartens and picture storybooks to all parents with 3-4 year old children to encourage parents to read with their children.

On Monday 21st May, Costa representatives joined with the State Member for Yan Yean, Danielle Green, and visited St Mary’s to promote reading in schools and also the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge.

Costa’s Victorian Mushroom Manager, Jose Cambon said that “Costa is proud to help our local community in any way we can and we are pleased to be able to support the St Mary’s Parish Primary School’s efforts to promote a love of reading and to develop literacy and learning skills”.

Costa wins Business Excellence Award for Agriculture, Food & Beverage at the 25th Annual AustCham Westpac Australia-China Business Awards

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Overnight in Shanghai, China (17 May 2018), Costa Group was announced as the winner of the Business Excellence Award for Agriculture, Food & Beverageat the prestigious 25th Annual AustCham Westpac Australia-China Business Awards.

Mr Peter McPherson, Costa Group General Manager International accepted the award on behalf of Costa and told the assembled audience of local and international dignitaries that it was a great honour to be recognised in this way with such a prestigious award.

“The footprint that Costa has established in China working together with Driscoll’s has taken a lot of hard work and most importantly this has involved a commitment to work cooperatively and harmoniously with local stakeholders, including government officials, our employees and local villagers”, said Mr McPherson.

The award recognises the agronomic practices that Costa has brought to China, including its world leading blueberry IP and substrate growing methods which has been a real game changer for the way in which not only berries are grown in China, but agriculture is conducted in general.

“Importantly the award is also recognition of how Costa has worked with all local stakeholders in helping to realise their commitment to agricultural policies and practices that improve economic development by creating jobs in agriculture, have a positive environmental impact and benefit the greater social good”, said Mr McPherson.

Mr McPherson made special mention of the great work of Costa’s local employees in working to establish three farms in Yunnan Province (to date), and their willingness to learn and apply new skills. 

Costa’s investment in China is one of the largest made by a foreign-owned company in Chinese agriculture in recent years.  Key factors underpinning the investment include:

  • Introduction of world leading high-tech growing and management systems.
  • Recognition of key national agricultural policies focusing on sustainable production and improvement in the economic and social well-being of the local population
  • Strong and harmonious working relationships with local authorities
  • Implementation of safe and healthy work practices.

New Costa Distribution Centre growing jobs in the North West of Tasmania

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MORE than 100 new full-time equivalent jobs are on track to be created by September this year, following the opening of the $7.1 million expansion of the Costa Distribution Centre in East Devonport.

The expanded and upgraded Distribution Centre (DC), which started operations late last year in time for the summer berry harvest, was formally opened by the Member for Braddon and Minister for Planning, Mr Roger Jaensch and Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff on May 16.

In 2016 Costa received $1.4 million funding from the Tasmania Jobs and Investment Fund (administered by the Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science) to construct a further modified atmosphere facility and undertake a significant expansion and upgrade of the East Devonport Distribution Centre.

The building includes refrigerated loading docks, four ambient temperature unloading docks, packing room, cooling room and new administration and amenities facilities.

David Jordan, General Manager of the Costa Berry Category, said the facility now had double the capacity to store berries in modified atmosphere storage meaning Costa could also invest in the further expansion of its Tasmanian production footprint.

“This is a state-of-the-art facility, which will enhance our capacity to expand our berry operations and in turn create more employment opportunities in the North-West,” Mr Jordan said.

“The facility has enabled the season to be extended and for the product to be sold into the market at a time when there has traditionally been no, or very low supply. It also fills the market at a time when there have traditionally been only imports from New Zealand.

“We have moved 8,000 tonnes of fruit through the DC this year, and are expecting this to grow by more than 20 per cent next season.  We have also significantly increased our dispatch capability, with 477 pallets, equating to 12 semi-trailers, loaded in a single shift.”

Cooling times for fruit have also been cut by half, ensuring the longest possible shelf life for Tasmanian fruit. 

Costa Berries has around 170 hectares of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries on the North-West coast.  At the peak of the harvest season, Costa employs a workforce of around 2000 people.

The DC also provides increased capacity for berries from third party growers across the North-West.

Mr Jordan said since the announcement of the funding in June 2016, a total of 90 new additional full-time equivalent jobs had been created, and this was on track to increase by the end of September this year.

“Tasmania is a key berry growing region, and the only location where we grow the four main berry types – blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries,” he said.

Costa supports FOODBANK in its ‘Rumbling Tummies’ campaign

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On 15th April, Foodbank released its inaugural research report on the prevalence of child hunger in Australia. Entitled ‘Rumbling Tummies’, the research used data collated from more than a thousand parents with children under the age of 15 and found that the major factor driving the growing need for hunger relief in Australia is the rising cost of living. The research discovered that, while 15% of Australian adults have experienced food insecurity in the last year, more than 1 in 5 children in Australia (22%) have gone hungry over the same period.

 This is a worrying statistic so Costa is proud to have supported Foodbank since 2011, being one of the first fresh produce companies to commit to assisting Foodbank on a national level. As one of Foodbanks’ most valuable partners, Costa has, to date, donated more than 2 million kilograms of fresh produce to Foodbank. This equates to over 16 million serves of nutritious fresh fruit and vegetables to people who might otherwise have gone without.

 Foodbank is the largest hunger relief organisation in Australia. Established in 1992, it collects and distributes the food industry’s surplus food to the welfare sector. Last year, this equated to over 63 million meals. However, despite providing food for over 652,000 people a month nationally, their front-line charity partners report that demand for food relief has increased by 10% in the past year.

 To find out more about ‘Rumbling Tummies’ and how you can play a role in supporting Foodbank’s fight against hunger, visit www.foodbank.org.au