Costa group drops $80m to pick up on booming berry demand
February 25, 2016

shutterstock4Consumer demand for berries is booming, and now Australia's largest horticulture company, Costa Group, is throwing AUD$80 million(US$58 million) at expanding production.

The plan includes 11 separate projects rolled out over four years starting from 2017, to coincide with the conclusion of a berry growth plan concluding next year.

Costa chief executive officer Harry Debney said the plan included major expansions at facilities in far north Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia.

The company is also evaluating whether WA's south west or Tasmania is the more suitable site for a new facility.

"Our whole thesis for the plan is to continue to match the market demand for blueberries and raspberries, and we want to bring blackberries along as well," Mr Debney said.

"Blueberries have traditionally been a seasonal product, and north Queensland, Tasmania and WA provide high quality blueberries all year round."

Berries are labour-intensive to harvest and pack, and Costa Group uses the Working Holiday Schemes and Seasonal Worker Program extensively.

Mr Debey said the company wants to see the current arrangements for seasonal labour remain as they are.

"We're a high cost country to produce in, and we source labour ethically," he said.

"Anyone who is working productively for Costa or our competitors is paid pretty well.

"We don't think there should be changes to seasonal or holiday worker schemes, and that's the view of the other major employers as well."


Source: ABC