Costa’s hunger for avocados pays
Shares in horticultural producer, Costa Group, hit new highs this week after the company posted a net profit after tax of $28.6 million for the first six months of 2017-18 – up 15 per cent on last year.
Stock market interest was also spurred by Costa’s latest 20-year lease deal with Macquarie Bank’s Agricultural Funds Management division after the purchase of Coastal Avocados near Macksville on the NSW Mid North Coast.
The Coastal farm will extend Costa’s avocado growing season from February and until December, but it wants to secure product 52 weeks a year and is looking for further strategic plantings.
Macquarie has backed the purchase of another farm for Costa Group at in Mareeba, on Queensland’s Atherton Tablelands.
Costa has spent about $110m developing its avocado farms in three states with help from Macquarie, and now has more than 600 hectares.
Costa shares broke their previous November peak of $7 each and climbed to almost $7.30.
Ruralco buys TEAM Irrigation
Dubbo-based irrigation company, TEAM Irrigation, has been acquired by the national Ruralco Water group.
The business, which operates across the NSW Riverina, Central West, Hunter Valley and into southern Queensland, began as partnership between Bob Johnson and Craig Chandler 15 years ago in a portable shed on Mr Johnson’s farm.
The two saw a customer service gap in the existing irrigation equipment market and took the opportunity to provide growers with product, design, installation and backup services they needed, especially at peak times.
TEAM irrigation swiftly grew to become one Australia’s larger regional irrigation equipment and service outfits.
The business will joins the big Ruralco agribusiness group from March after the partners agreed there was only so far the two of them could take the company on their own.
Ruralco Water’s footprint spans about 70 locations Australia-wide and includes the Total Eden equipment retail and advisory division.
Gympie vets join Apiam
Bendigo-based regional veterinary group, Apiam Animal Health, is to pay the equivalent of almost $5 million to buy Gympie and District Veterinary Services (GDVS), in South East Queensland.
The diversified practice services agricultural and companion animal needs in an area Apiam sees as fast growing and but underserviced.
GDVS has clinics at Gympie and Tin Can Bay in the Wide Bay-Burnett region and employs more than 30 staff including 12 full-time equivalent vets servicing the dairy, beef and companion animal sectors.
The sale will be funded with 70 per cent cash payment and 30pc share scrip in the listed Apiam business, in-line with previous acquisitions in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
GDVS will operate as part of a regional group with Apiam’s other mixed animal clinics in Bell and Jandowae servicing attractive urban growth and agricultural areas.
Apiam managing director, Dr Chris Richards, said the deal would significantly enhance Apiam’s operations in the Queensland regional and rural market.
“We believe there are significant synergy opportunities that we can achieve by operating with a greater footprint in this key production and mixed animal region,” he said.
“It will also enable Apiam to develop smaller satellite clinics that leverage off existing clinics.”
New Export Council boss
The Export Council of Australia (ECA), the peak body representing Australia’s industry promotion effort in overseas markets, has appointed Alina Bain as its new chief executive officer.
Ms Bain starts the Sydney-based role on March 15, replacing Lisa McAuley, who has held the job since 2015.
Ms Bain has extensive public policy experience after 10 years in senior executive roles for the broadcasting and advertising and marketing industries and recently a two-year appointment as CEO of the Australian Services Roundtable.
ECA chairman Dianne Tipping described Ms Bain as a fantastic appointment whose extensive experience in delivering positive policy outcomes in highly complex and challenging environments would help grow the organisation at a critical time for Australian exporters.
Diplomat joins Roots
Newly Australian-listed Israeli business Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies has appointed former Australia Ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, as a consultant to assist with the development of international contracts and increase awareness of the company’s innovative agronomy technology around the world.
Mr Sharma is considered to have excellent networks in government and the private sector and strong ties in Israel.
He was the Australian Ambassador from 2013 until last year 2017 and is currently works with the ASX-listed Kelly and Partners Group as director of government relations, incentives and innovations.He also sits on the board of Project Rozana, a not-for-profit seeking to build links between Israelis and Palestinians through medical treatment and care.
He will earn $5000 a month at Roots as part of a three-year contract.
Packed citrus conference
Tickets have sold out for the bi-annual Citrus Australia Market Outlook Forum – this year’s national event for the citrus industry.
More than 150 representatives from the growing, packing and marketing sectors of the citrus industry will attend the event in in Sydney’s Darling Harbour on March 14 and 15.
“With the Australian citrus industry in a buoyant phase, thanks to strong export markets and unprecedented demand, this event will be a unique chance to be part of the conversation to set the industry’s course for the next five to 10 years,” said Citrus Australia chief executive officer, Nathan Hancock.
One of the keynote speakers, Tristan Kitchener, will discuss how the Australian industry can take advantage of the seismic shift created by e-commerce in the retail sector.
Mr Kitchener notes online superstore, Amazon has 320 million products compared to conventional supermarkets Woolworths with 20,000 and Coles’ 17,000.
“Amazon entered Australia’s e-commerce landscape to much fanfare last year, and its impact on the sector is yet to be fully realised,” he said.
“The tech giant also has “phenomenal ability” to use data to forecast changing consumer behaviour.”
China-based online marketplace Alibaba also provided unprecedented opportunity to market high-quality produce to Asia’s middle class, given more than 400 million consumers use Alibaba across Asia.