AHEIA - Providing leadership to support and strengthen Australia's trade in horticultural produce.

Costa boosts first-half profits

“Standout” performance for citrus and tomatoes helps drive 14.5 per cent increase Australian group’s first-half profits
Leading Australian grower-packer-marketer Costa Group has announced a 14.5 per cent increase in first-half net profit to A$28.6m.

The result came on the back of a near 10 per cent increase in revenue in the six months to 31 December, to some A$489.4m.

Chief executive Harry Debney singled out citrus and tomatoes as the star performers among its core categories.

“These results are indicative of a strong 1H FY2018, with our citrus category continuing to make a standout contribution, fuelled by growing export demand across our key markets including Japan, the US and China,” Debney said.

“Tomatoes also made an excellent contribution boosted by the snacking segment’s performance.”

In the H1 results announcement, Costa also reported on a number of key investments to drive its further growth.

The group expanded its shareholding in Morocco-based berry venture African Blue in November, boosting its ownership to 86 per cent, from 49 per cent, in a deal worth A$68.5m.

Avocado acquisitions

Besides berries, avocado expansion is also on the cards, with Costa today announcing a conditional agreement to buy Coastal Avocados in the mid-north coast of New South Wales, a new growing region for the company. Coastal currently produces around 200,000 trays of avocados per year, a figure expanded to grow to 300,000 trays as plantings mature. It also packs a further 300,000 trays for third-party growers.

Costa announced two further avocado acquisitions were completed as of January, including the Gunalda avocado farm in Central Queensland and Burness avocado farm in Far North Queensland.

“As a result of these acquisitions, Costa will, on completion of the Coastal Avocados acquisition, have a production and supply footprint stretching from February through to December,” said Debney. “We are now well under way to executing our strategy to build avocados into our fifth core vertically integrated produce pillar and to ultimately achieve 52-week supply.”

The new avocado acquisitions, together with recent additional plantings, are set to take the company’s total plantings to around 679ha with a presence in four growing areas across three states and packhouse facilities in each region. They bring Costa’s investment in the avocado category, in conjunction with Macquirie Agricultural Funds Management, to A$110m, as the group bids to become “the market leader” in the next three years.

Acquisition activity in Australia was not limited to the avocado categrory, with Costa also completing the purchase of citrus operation Impi Orchards in December. The operation includes 77ha of citrus plantings, with a further 65ha of development land, producing a mix of oranges, mandarins, grapefruit and lemons.

“This now brings Costa’s total citrus plantings to around 2,240ha, which are all located in the Riverland region,” said Debney, who confirmed that Costa “maintained an active interest in M&A opportunities in the citrus industry”.

Elsewhere, Costa reported on the ongoing successful execution of its domestic berry growth programme in Australia, where it has added 95ha of new plantings in 2018.

The group also said its investments in berry operations in China remained on track, despite a challenging summer with wet weather hampering production. The company is planning a 65ha expansion at its new Manhong site for 2019.

Positive outlook

Costa said it now expects full-year net profit to grow by around 25 per cent, up from previous guidance of at least 20 per cent.

Full-year earnings would be more heavily weighted to the second half of the fiscal year, the company said, due to the timing of the avocado harvest and further growth of international operations, including the consolidation of African Blue in December 2017.

The earnings forecast includes a contribution from Costa’s acquisition of African Blue. Costa’s purchase of a further 37 per cent shareholding of the company prompted a revaluation of the 49 per cent stake it already held. A $40.1m non-cash gain on the revaluation increased Costa’s statutory net profit for H1 to A$66.2m.

The company raised its interim dividend of 5 cents per share, fully franked, up 25 per cent on FY17.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit

Author: John Hey

More than just chat—Australia sprouts new market for seed potatoes

Seed potato producers in Victoria and South Australia have market access to Indonesia.
• The protocol was signed at a bilateral forum in Melbourne yesterday.
• Only Western Australian seed potatoes previously had access, and Victoria and South Australia are major seed potato producers.

More than 300 seed potato farmers across South Australia and Victoria will be celebrating after today’s breakthrough in securing new market access to Indonesia.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, said delivering this market access would provide opportunities for seed potato farmers to now compete in premium markets with the best produce the world has to offer.

“Agricultural trade is a priority for the Coalition Government and we are delivering, not just sitting around like couch potatoes on this issue,” Minister Littleproud said.

“The export protocol has been on the boil for a while and today we finally got it over the line - this will take an industry with a current production value of $520.3 million, to new heights.

“Today’s signing paves the way for trade in seed potatoes from Victoria and South Australia to commence as soon as possible, whenever farmers are ready.

“This is a fantastic result for farmers in these two states—as major seed potato producers—and builds on current seed potato access for Western Australia.

“Australia and Indonesia have a strong bilateral partnership, with two-way trade worth $4.28 billion in 2016-17 in agriculture alone.

“Australia is a trading nation and we continue to support our farmers as they sell our premium produce for premium prices to overseas markets.”

The Coalition Government has secured free-trade agreements with three significant export markets—Japan, Korea and China—and just signed the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement and recently concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

• Through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, we are investing $30.8 million to break down technical barriers to trade, and appointed five new agricultural counsellors in key small markets.
• In the agriculture portfolio since January 2016, we have had 64 key market access gains or restorations, along with 57 key market access improvements or actions to maintain market access.
Megan Dempsey
Assistant Media Adviser
Office of the Hon. David Littleproud MP
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
P 02 6277 7630 M: 0491 222 306 E: megan.dempsey@agriculture.gov.au

Australian onions on export expansion path

Developing new avenues for international trade is a priority for Australian onion growers and marketers
ustralia’s onion industry is working on a five-year export market development plan, with Asia and the Middle East key targets.

The move comes amid incidents of oversupply in the domestic market and a steady decline in shipments to Europe.

“Through an industry funded project, we will conduct in-market trade research in high prospect markets to identify opportunities for product differentiation or customisation,” explained Peter Shadbolt, chairman of peak industry body Onions Australia.

“We will also support exporters to build capability and capacity to understand and service the emerging markets of Asia and the Middle East and look to collaborate more with the vegetable industry on in-bound and out-bound trade missions and trade shows.”

Shadbolt said Australia had a “seasonal advantage” over northern hemisphere suppliers when it came to servicing Asia and the Middle East, hence the reason why these have been identified as target markets by the Australian industry.

He said long-term prospects look particularly good for Australian onions in Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Qatar and Bahrain, although this is heavily dependent on the Australian dollar staying within the “current favourable range.”

Due to high production and export costs, the onion industry, like many of its Australian counterparts, knows it can only be competitive in niche markets where a segment is prepared to pay a premium, based on product integrity and a seasonal window advantage.

Therefore, to ensure a viable long-term export avenue is created, the work being done on the export market development plan will help prepare the industry for a time when exchange rates may be less favourable.

“The industry must work on reducing costs at every level of the supply chain by whatever means possible, while at the same time developing differentiated products that suit the needs of a niche market segment in a particular export market, for which they are prepared to pay a premium,” Shadbolt added.

“If Australia is to compete in the longer term, it must look to develop products customised to the opportunities in niche markets through variety selection, growing methods, quality specifications or packaging.”

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit Author: Matthew Jones

Horticulture production rises remain on track, according to quarterly figures

Figures released for the December quarter have confirmed that the gross value of horticultural production remains on track to pass $10billion dollars in 2018.

The Agricultural commodities report released by ABARES has estimated production across the major fruit and vegetable categories will continue its upward trend in terms of value increasing from $9.99billion to nearly $10.3billion in the 2017-18 financial year. Both vegetables and fruit and nuts are on track to be worth $4.1billion each, while table and dried grapes are set to increase from $364million to $374million.

This comes on the back of an increase in production which is forecast across the major categories. Potatoes are expected to rise from 1,295 kilotonnes (kt) to 1,385 kt, and onions are set to rise by 22 kt this financial year, and tomatoes 11 kt. In terms of fruit, bananas will rise by 28 kt according to the ABARES data, and oranges will be up from 395 to 418 kt. However, some produce lines are tipped to reduce slightly, including apples which will fall by just 2 kt, while carrot production will decrease by 4 kt.

Horticulture exports are tipped for another major rise in value, jumping from $2.5billion to $3.1billion. According to ABARES fruit exports should increase in value from $1billion in 2016-17 to more than $1.3billion in 2017-18, while tree nut exports look set for a rise of $310million. Vegetable exports will also rise, but by a much smaller margin of just $10million.

The increase in exports will continue to be led by the Chinese market, with the value continuing to increase from $260million to $341million in the next financial year. Fruit exports into the country are expected to again rise dramatically from $187million to $258million. Tree nuts and vegetables will also have slight increases in value.

The value of exports into Indonesia looks set to fall in this financial year by just over $13million. It is a similar story for the United States, with a significant drop in the value of tree nuts from $82.1million to $43.3million leading to an overall decrease of Australian horticultural produce into the country. However strong exports across all three categories (fruit, nuts and vegetables) means the value of exports to is Japan expected to rise from $178million $212million.

The full report can be viewed here

Publication date: 12/12/2017
Author: Matthew Russell
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com

First Australian broccoli exports hit South Korea

In an Australian first, broccoli direct from the Lockyer Valley has been exported to Seoul in South Korea this week.

South Korea is Asia’s fifth largest economy and imports more than 70% of its food and agricultural products. The Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) which started in December 2014, reduces trade and investment barriers and helps level the playing field for Australian exporters competing with those from the USA, Europe, Chile and ASEAN countries, who also benefit from trade deals with Korea.

“This is really exciting for us” said Michael Sippel, Chairman of Lockyer Valley Growers. “Currently only 1% of vegetable imports into South Korea come from Australia and consumer tastes and demand for luxury and high-quality food products are increasing” added Michael.

Until recently, confusion in Australia existed about whether broccoli and other leafy green vegetables had market access into South Korea. Korean authorities recently confirmed access and the first shipment of Australian Broccoli landed in Seoul this week following a direct flight from Brisbane.

“Our vegetable producers in Queensland are gaining an international reputation as producers of high-quality clean, green and safe vegetables. Vegetable producers, especially those based in the Lockyer Valley where a lot of leafy-green vegetables are grown, are excited about the export potential for their produce to South Korea” Michael said.

Other leafy-green vegetables that have export potential in South Korea include lettuce, cauliflower, spinach, kale, Chinese cabbage and brussells sprouts.

Lockyer Valley Growers received funding from Austrade as part of the Free Trade Agreement Training Provider Grant and are implementing the project in conjunction with Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers, Bowen-Gumlu Growers Association and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

A fact sheet on KAFTA and the opportunities for vegetable growers has been developed and can be downloaded at www.lockyervalleygrowers.com.au 

For More information:
Michael Sippel
Lockyer Valley Growers
Tel: +61 0418 479 062Salter

Source: www.freshplaza.com Publication date: 8/25/2017

Irradiation facility enables NZ to import AU winter tomatoes

The Bowen region is Australia’s largest winter producer of vegetables. Tomatoes are by far its biggest crop, totalling US $120 million a year. Yet, even though it could offer consumers access to fresh tomatoes in the winter, its export market has been extremely limited.

The problem is the Queensland fruit fly, an aggressive pest that Australia once controlled with pesticides that are no longer allowed. However, thanks to a protocol in place that links Australia to New Zealand, tomato exporters have another option: irradiation.

Australia irradiates the tomatoes to ensure there are no pests and New Zealand accepts irradiation as proof of insect control. The Joint FAO/IAEA Division has worked with Australia and other countries to bring irradiation to the fore as a suitable replacement for chemical treatments.

The timing is perfect. As Australia’s tomatoes are ripening, New Zealand’s tomatoes are going out of season. And because the two countries have agreed that irradiation is a safe and appropriate way to meet insect pest control requirements, New Zealand can import irradiated winter tomatoes and a host of other fresh produce from Australia’s orchards and fields.

source: iaea.org via www.freshsource.com 

Publication date: 6/30/2017

Australia: Queensland fresh produce on show in Taiwan

Six Queensland producers from Australia’s Murray Darling Basin will be showcasing their produce as part of the ‘Now in Season’ campaign in Taiwan.

In a release, state Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) senior industry development officer Justin Heaven said this was an opportunity for producers to build consumer awareness and demand for Queensland vegetables.

“Producers will be selling their high quality produce through several CitySuper stores in Taiwan over 10 days, culminating with a showcase event on 14 June 2017,” Heaven said.

“This will include a range of in-store promotions, tastings and other networking activities designed to build the presence of Queensland fresh produce.

“The produce that will be showcased includes broccoli, cauliflower, onions, red cabbage, Chinese cabbage, celery, baby leaf products and fresh juice.”

He said growers would also meet with importers, distributors and retail partners to discuss export opportunities.

Heaven said Taiwan had been highlighted as a potential growth market with the total value of fresh produce imported into Taiwan reaching US$295.4 million in 2016, up from US$135.6 million the previous year.

“The Taiwan market does have strict import protocols and regulatory requirements in place, so producers considering trading with Taiwan should investigate the market requirements thoroughly,” he said.

The ‘Now In Season’ campaign is a multi-industry, multi-country integrated promotional program designed to raise awareness of the advantages of quality, safe and healthy Australian horticulture products.

Heaven leads a project that supports irrigators to develop new, high value, export oriented horticulture industries in the Queensland Murray Darling Basin to increase economic activity and employment is areas affected by irrigation water buy-backs under the Murray Darling Basin plan.


Image: Pixabay_b1-photo

‘Now in Season’ heads to Taiwan

Queensland vegetables take centre stage in 10-day promotional programme

Queensland-grown broccoli, cauliflower and onions are among the fresh products being showcased in Taiwan this week as part of the ‘Now in Season’ campaign.

The 10-day promotion is being run through several CitySuper stores, with the centrepiece of the campaign being an exhibition event tomorrow (14 June).

“This will include a range of in-store promotions, tastings and other networking activities designed to build the presence of Queensland fresh produce,” said Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) senior industry development officer, Justin Heaven.

“The produce that will be showcased includes broccoli, cauliflower, onions, red cabbage, Chinese cabbage, celery, baby leaf products and fresh juice. Producers will also to meet with importers, distributers and retail partners to discuss exporting opportunities.”

Taiwan has been highlighted as a potential growth market for Queensland's vegetable trade, with the value of overall fresh produce imports into Taiwan reaching A$295m (US$223m) in 2016, up from A$135,586,000 (US$103m) in 2015. Having said this, Heaven explained it was important for potential exporters to do their due diligence.

“The Taiwan market does have strict import protocols and regulatory requirements in place, so producers considering trading with Taiwan should investigate the market requirements thoroughly,” he said.

The ‘Now In Season’ campaign is a multi-industry promotional programme designed to raise awareness of the advantages of quality, safe and healthy Australian horticulture products.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit Author: Matthew Jones

Image: Pixabay_congerdesign


Slow start to asparagus harvest welcomed by growers managing demand

Australia's largest asparagus growers say spring rainfall has helped slow the harvest and manage supply.

More than 90 per cent of Australian asparagus is grown in Koo Wee Rup, 70 kilometres south-east of Melbourne, and in Mildura in north-western Victoria.

Harvest traditionally begins in August in the north-west and the beginning of September in Koo Wee Rup but southern growers say wet spring weather has tempered the beginning of harvest.

Growers running at 30 per cent of capacity

Australia's largest asparagus grower Joe Vizzarri said the slow start to the season had been welcome news for the industry.

Mr Vizzarri manages a packing house, export and marketing business and several farms in the Koo Wee Rup area.

He said he and neighbouring growers were currently running at approximately 30 per cent of capacity.

"Fortunately, the rain has helped us because our export markets really aren't ready for us until at least October," Mr Vizzarri said.

"So the rain and the slow production has actually been very good for us."

Mr Vizzarri said the spring rain had not affected quality.

"Well look, even though the weather's been pretty ugly, cold and wet etcetera, we're pretty on par with last year's production and it's about to take off in a big way," he said.

Asparagus a difficult crop to manage

James Terry is a Koo Wee Rup asparagus grower and manages export for packing and distribution business Momack Produce.

Mr Terry said the industry was grateful for a steady start to harvest because asparagus could be a very difficult and labour-intensive crop to manage.

Asparagus can grow up to one centimetre per hour, which means growers must be vigilant throughout the season.

"Once we get days of 20 degrees or above, we will be harvesting every day," Mr Terry said.

"It's one of the problems with asparagus production; you can't control its growth speed or rate and it's also highly perishable so you can't store it at all."

Mr Terry said the wet, cool spring conditions allowed better management of supply into domestic and export markets.

He said growers had been forced to deal with a "sudden influx of product" in recent years during harvest, which had created marketing difficulties.

"At this stage we're going along fairly nicely," he said.

Vic Country Hour By Bridget Fitzgerald

Photo: Asparagus harvest begins in Koo Wee Rup, Australia's largest producing asparagus region. (ABC Rural: Bridget Fitzgerald)



Japanese sweet potato varieties in demand in China

"Every year, Hainan sweet potatoes are planted in August. The crop is ready for harvest around the Spring Festival, which is considerably earlier than sweet potatoes from Northern China. The supply generally last until the middle of June. Our early availability is giving us a competitive advantage compared to other production regions," explains Mr. Wu Fengyao from the Dongfang Fengzaibao Sweet Potato Farmers Cooperative.

"The cold weather that occurred earlier this year affected the growth of sweet potatoes across China. Hainan, fortunately, has been less impacted by this weather. Our output has decreased 10-20% compared with last year. Currently, our sweet potato season nearing its ends. Our sales have almost doubled and our market reach grew."

"The cooperative was founded in 2009. We have registered our  brand under the name Gandi Yuan. We grow sweet potatoes on 65 hectares. We will add an additional 35 hectares this summer. Half of these bases will be used for planting Qingxiang sweet potatoes, a Chinese variety, and the other half will be used for Japanese sweet potatoes."

"The main variety we grow is the Japanese sweet potato. We purchased a small volume of seedlings from a Japanese company located in Hainan province. In addition, we purchased large amounts of Chinese sweet potatoes seeds from two local scientific research institutions. Compared with Chinese sweet potatoes, Japanese sweet potatoes are sweeter and tastier."

"At this stage, our sweet potatoes are mainly sold through the traditional way of selling to domestic cities, such as Shanghai city, Jiangsu and Zhejiang province. We use a combination of organic manure and organic fertilizers. This year we plan to build our own packaging factory. We have no in-house transportation services and we cooperate with external logistics companies. "

Wu Fengyao
Dongfang City FengZai Bao Sweet Potato Farmer Cooperatives 
Tel: +86 13807660393
E-mail: 1029432693@qq.com

Source article: http://www.freshplaza.com

Date published: 10 June 

Australian Costa Group: +26% profit

The long, cold spring in Morocco and the disappointing soft fruit harvest in Tasmania and Atherton Tableland weren't enough to depress the results of the Costa Group. The Australian multinational noted a net profit which was 26.3% higher than last year.

The turnover over the financial year rose by 10.2% and reached 1 billion Australian dollars. The remaining profit was 76.7 million Australian dollars. The company is active in various segments and has cultivation locations in Australia, Morocco and China.

Morocco had a long and cold spring this year, which meant the season started eight weeks late. The harvest concentrated towards the end of the season. As a result of this, the contribution of African Blue, part of the Costa Group, was below expectations.

The soft fruit harvest in both Tasmania and Atherton Tableland was disappointing, which limited the advantages of the off season prices. Within the soft fruit category the company is expanding with cultivations in Morocco, China and Australia. The citrus on the other hand presented well, with an excellent start to 2018. Of the 300 hectares in Riverland, 201 hectares were planted in June, of which 157 hectares citrus and 44 hectares avocado.

Tomatoes and mushrooms performed well with results above expectations.
There was an investment in Monarta farm, a cultivation company of mushrooms, among others. This expansion is on schedule. An investment in 10 hectares of greenhouses for snacking tomatoes has been announced for tomatoes. The greenhouse is to come into production from May 2020. Besides this there was investment in the nursery capacity and the packaging facilities within the group.

Costa Group is investing in the avocado cultivation as a fifth pillar of the company. In the last 18 months 6 companies were taken over, including Koci Farm (FNQ).


Publication date: 8/29/2018

Source: www.freshplaza.com 



Beans originated in Central America.

What are they

Beans belong to the pea (Fabaceae) family. They require warm temperatures for growth and yields. The immature pods are eaten as a fresh vegetable.  Two types of fresh beans are grown, with production divided between the climbing or runner bean and the dwarf bean, which has a number of names, such as French, bush, snap or stringless beans.

How are they grown

Optimum air temperatures for good yields and quality are 16°C to 30°C. A frost-free period of 120 days is required. Where temperatures exceed 35°C, pollination of flowers may be poor and beans may be short, flat and curled with many second grade and reject beans.

Where are they grown

All Australian states.


French and Runner.

How to know when they are ripe

Harvesting occurs about two weeks after flowering. First picking occurs 7 to 11 weeks are planting, depending upon season.

Pick beans when they are over 15cm in length, with half-sized seeds. Younger beans wilt rapidly. Best quality beans are straight with smooth pods.

Dwarf beans are picked two to five times over 7 to 15 days, when the beans are 10 to 13cm long, depending on variety.

Baby beans can be picked for gourmet markets. These are less than 10cm long.




























Weather impacts

Beans should be planted in a sheltered area. Winds damage leaves and destroy flowers, and pods are deformed when they rub against supports, leaves and stems.

Temperatures below 10°C during flowering and pod setting may result in curling and russetting of pods.

Local market

Fresh and processed.


Store beans at 4.5 to 6.0°C at 90 to 95% relative humidity for one to three weeks. Bacterial soft rot and Sclerotinia may appear in the middle of packages if beans are packed when wet.


They contain good levels of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamin A and vitamin C.


Cool beans to 4.5 to 6.0°C immediately after harvesting. Grade beans during picking. Pack into 22L or 36L plastic crates or 10kg cartons.

For good presentation and extra life, dwarf beans and baby beans may be packed into 300g punnets and covered with clear plastic, with 12 punnets stacked on a tray.

Do not market over-mature, small, misshapen or blemished beans. Reject beans may amount to a quarter of the crop.


Information from:

 Western Australia Department of Agriculture and Food https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/beans/growing-fresh-runner-and-dwarf-beans-western-australia (January 2016)