New blueberry variety a ‘Delight’

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Costa operates a globally recognised Variety Improvement Program, developing new blueberry varieties which are licensed in regions including the Americas, Morocco, China, and South Africa.

Headquartered at Corindi on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia, the program uses Costa’s extensive network of farms in mid latitude, low latitude, and low chill to mid-chill locations to select, evaluate and develop new varieties suitable for a range of global growing conditions, meeting both consumer and customer requirements.

Take a look at our new Delight blueberry variety, which is now being grown commercially on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. The variety has risen to prominence as a standout for flavour and fruit quality, with early season tendencies. It is particularly suited to low latitude environments.

Our new Delight blueberry variety is now being grown commercially on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. It is well suited to low latitude environments, and is a standout for flavour and fruit quality.

Sustainability Report 2021

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Costa Group Holdings Limited, Australia’s leading grower, packer and marketer of fresh fruit and vegetables, has released its 2021 Sustainability Report.

Our 2021 Sustainability Report provides key data on our actions across our key Sustainable Commercial Farming pillars of the Environment, Economic, People and Community.

Key highlights in the report include:
• Commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
• Further reporting under the TCFD framework – identification of short, medium and long term
climate related risks and opportunities.
• Reported metrics – greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, total energy produced,
water use by category, total water use, kilograms of produce grown per ML of water used.
• Update on water efficiency and renewable energy projects.
• Initiatives to reduce supply chain and packaging waste.
• Health and safety key data.
• People key data.

Costa CEO and Managing Director Sean Hallahan said Sustainable Commercial Farming was integral to Costa’s business model and our ability to deliver on our growth strategy and produce superior returns for shareholders.

“Our approach targets the four key pillars of Environment, Economic, People and Community and our Sustainability Report covers our progress in these areas. It recognises their importance to not only our commercial performance through addressing climate risk by utilising protected cropping and reducing emissions, improving yield and production efficiency, reducing supply chain waste and being an industry employer of choice, but also the contribution we make to providing millions of people with healthy and nutritious fresh produce in the most sustainable way possible,” Mr Hallahan said.

“Costa has sought to establish a quantitative target which we believe will create long term commercial resilience and will ensure Costa makes a meaningful contribution to addressing the environmental and financial risks of climate change. The result of this is a commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“To assist in progressing towards this commitment, Costa plans to pledge to the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) and subsequently work with SBTi to have our emission reduction targets validated and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“Work will be undertaken in 2022 to quantify our major waste streams as a prelude to setting waste
reduction targets commencing from 2023. Costa is targeting all forms of waste in our efforts to
achieve meaningful and lasting reductions in the level of waste we generate.”

View our Sustainability Report 2021.

Costa PRIMED to promote careers

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Costa has collaborated with the Western Australian Department of Education as part of the PRIMED project, designed to build greater awareness and understanding of the primary industries sector and its importance to the local economy.

The PRIMED project is an initiative between the Department of Education, the Department of Training and Workforce Development, and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

In September 2021, the Costa Berries and Mushroom farms participated in ​​a PRIMED workshop in Perth, aimed at equipping and inspiring teachers to prepare students in Years 7-12 for futures in primary industries in Western Australia by providing them an opportunity to connect with representatives from the primary industries and integrate into their curriculum delivery.

With a vision to create a food secure and sustainable world, the PRIMED resources seek to engage students to build an understanding of primary industries to improve their understanding of the diversity within primary industries and enable them to make informed career pathway choices.

As part of the ongoing project, a serious of videos highlighting opportunities in the primary industries sector are being created, including one featuring Deniz Kansak, Human Resources Manager for the Costa Casuarina Mushroom Farm.

The videos will be made available to high school teachers, to use as a resource for students in Years 7 to 9. This video featuring Deniz, was developed as a resource for Technologies: Food and Fibre but will also be useful in HASS and Science subjects.

Costa PRIMED to promote careers from Costa on Vimeo.

Sustainability Report 2020

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Costa has released its Sustainability Report 2020, covering all Costa operations in Australia, Morocco and China.

Costa has adopted a systematic and tailored Sustainable Commercial Farming strategy to ensure that we work for the long term to progressively improve the yield and quality of our healthy and nutritious products whilst achieving a per unit reduction in crop production inputs.

We accept our responsibility for the environment and communities within which we farm and grow our crops whilst recognising that innovation is required to enhance productivity, reduce waste and adapt to challenges presented by such issues as water security and climate change, while continuing to supply product that is fundamental to the maintenance of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Our 2020 Sustainability Report provides key data on our actions across our key areas of the Environment, Economic and People.

Key highlights in the report include:

  • Reporting on our adoption of the Task Force on Climated Related-financial Disclosure;
  • Reported metrics – greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, total energy produced, water use by category, total water use, kilograms of produce grown per ML of water used;
  • Health and safety key data;
  • People key data.

Download the Costa Group Sustainability Report 2020.

Berry harvest under way with Tassie workers

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The harvest of Costa’s Tasmanian berry crop has commenced with a newly recruited Tasmanian workforce.

“We are looking forward to the new season and to date we have employed 69 Tasmanians, with another 50 starting next week, from 405 local applications,” said Costa Tasmanian Regional Manager, Cameron Folder.

The recruiting of Tasmanian workers has been made possible by Costa’s “Pick Adventure” campaign featuring locals who have achieved successful careers in the horticultural industry, supported by the State Government’s “Tassie Harvest Jobs – Take Your Pick” program and the Federal Government’s “Harvest Trail”.

“Over the harvest season Costa aims to employ up to 900 Tasmanians in a range of positions. These jobs include supervisors, crop maintenance, picking, packing, pest management, truck drivers, forklift drivers, irrigation and general maintenance. People who have successfully applied to Costa will be contacted and offered a position,” said Mr Folder.

Costa already has in place a COVID safe workplan, which includes the temperature testing of all workers before they enter any Costa site.

“It is important that we do everything we can in our business to make sure Tasmania stays COVID free and the healthy and safety of our workforce is a priority,” said Mr Folder.

Tasmania is the only location where Costa currently grows the four main berry types – blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries, which makes Tasmania a key part of Costa’s ability to supply Australians with quality berries year-round. To achieve this, we estimate we will need approximately 2000 workers.

“The size of our crop and the duration of our season which can last up to six months means additional labour will be required. Costa is working closely with the State and Commonwealth Governments to supplement the Tasmanian workforce with backpackers who are already in Australia and seasonal workers, many of whom are also on the Australian mainland,” said Mr Folder.

The combination of local labour, backpackers and seasonal workers make a major contribution to the local economy leading to a significant economic injection into the local North and North West Tasmania goods and services sectors. Importantly the Seasonal Worker Program also contributes to Australia’s foreign aid effort.

“Costa also utilises local suppliers where possible for items including machinery, contractors PPE and fertiliser, further adding to the Tasmanian economy,” said Mr Folder.

Photo caption: Taking a look at the new strawberry crop are from left, Cameron Folder, Costa Berries Regional Manager Tasmania, Minister for Primary Industries and Water Guy Barnett and Member of Braddon Felix Ellis.

Stop the mushroom levy

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Costa Group is conducting a ballot to abolish the compulsory mushroom spawn levy.

Since 2014, when the mushroom levy was doubled, $18 million of growers’ money has been wasted on ineffective marketing and administration.

This is the most of any fresh produce category, yet there has been little to no growth in household consumption of mushrooms.

While other categories which do not have a compulsory levy, such as blueberries and tomatoes, have achieved significant growth, the mushroom industry has spent more but received the least return to levy payers.

The AMGA supported the doubling of the levy and needs to take responsibility for it. Growers should be able to directly invest the levy money they currently pay in their own marketing rather than have their money wasted through the ineffective mushroom levy.

As a levy payer and the largest mushroom grower, Costa is not content to watch our industry be destroyed and has requested a ballot to abolish the compulsory mushroom spawn levy.

This will be an anonymous postal ballot, confidential, and independently audited through Link Market Services, who also conduct the HIAL AGM ballot.

If we do not act now, then the next six years will be no different to the last six. Make your voice heard and vote to abolish the mushroom spawn levy.

An information pack is being sent to all eligible levy payers and ballot papers will be forwarded in November.

Department of Agriculture Levy Principles and Guidelines explaining how the vote has to be conducted are available at www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/levies/publications

If you believe you are eligible to vote in the mushroom spawn levy ballot but have not received an information pack, or have questions about why the levy should be abolished, please contact: abolishmushroomlevy@costagroup.com.au

Growing a healthier Australia

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The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance of which Costa is a founding member has released a White Paper outlining a number of key recommendations to grow the value of the fresh produce industry from $9 billion to $20 billion by 2030.

The White Paper titled Growing a healthier Australia, the Fresh Produce Industry Roadmap highlights a number of initiatives which must be supported for future industry growth to occur, including the opening up of access to key export markets, clearly defined water policy which promotes an efficient trading market, access to reliable sources of labour both skilled and harvest workers, and investment in R&D and agtech to improve product development, quality and productivity.

“These are all crucial issues for the industry to grow to $20 billion in revenue by 2030. The fresh produce sector deserves a prominent seat at the table when it comes to the future direction of Australian agriculture and farming. This is due recognition for the role it plays in so many areas, whether it be the economic activity and employment it generates in regional and rural communities, the export income earned from clean and green fresh produce, or the role it plays in contributing to the health and well-being of the population, the fresh produce sector is undoubtedly a key player in Australia’s future success,” said AFPA Chairman and Costa Group CEO, Mr Harry Debney.