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Cameron Smith Costa Group

"Trend is definitely towards glasshouse tomato growing in Australia"

As well as producing citrus, grapes, berries, bananas, mushrooms and marketing avocados, the Costa Group is one of Australia's largest vertically integrated grower and marketer of hydroponically grown truss tomatoes. With 20 hectares of glasshouse production at the Blush Tomatoes site in Guyra, New South Wales and supply from a further 15 hectares of contracted growing facilities across the country.

Cameron Smith, National Sales and Marketing Manager at Costa Group explains that this huge area of glasshouse production guarantees a 12 month supply of tomatoes. "The trend is definitely towards glasshouse growing in Australia. We do not have any open field operations within our business, by comparison, growing everything under glass in a protected cropping environment results in using 90% less water and 80% less pesticides, so it is more sustainable and environmentally friendly, while at the same time we have higher yields per square metre of land and year-round supply of consistent quality." The major components of the high-tech glasshouses are sourced from Holland and the production facility includes highly automated trolleys and packing lines.

Large truss tomatoes, similar to the European beefsteak tomatoes are one of the main kinds grown, according to Smith they focus more on the flavour at Costa and as such produce a range of varieties to suit an “increasingly discerning customer and consumer base”. Products such as, blush® and Sabroso® large truss, SAMPARI® and Amoroso® premium cocktail truss, Perino™ and Bellino® sweet snacking tomatoes are some of their popular branded products with Australians.

Costa’s Blush Tomatoes site also has its own R&D facility and a close connection to major seed companies, they are currently trialling up to 40 different varieties and from there select appropriate variants for the market that are commercially viable and meet consumer demands. Smith, who plays a leading role in the Blush R&D Department explains that they look at all kinds of characteristics within new variants, including unique sizes and shapes, colours, textures and importantly flavour profiles.

Blush is behind Australia's number one snacking tomato, Perino™. It has been on the market since 2009. "The growth of this snacking tomato has been phenomenal over the last few years, the combination of an exclusive seed, high quality growing, consistent supply and clever marketing has led to the development of a very strong and loyal consumer following. It has been a ground breaking product, never before was there a snacking tomato in Australia which you could take to work or school and just eat whole." Blush are the exclusive suppliers of this tomato to one of the major supermarket chain Coles.

The Perino™ tomatoes have also been exported to Singapore to high-end retailers for the last couple of years, Smith said that there is the potential for other ranges in this market as well as other Asian markets.

Blush are also supplying ALDI supermarkets with their very own snacking tomato which is going well. Costa’s Blush Tomatoes also produces private label products for major retailers.

The tomato category is one of the highest revenue and volume contributors in the fresh produce sector in Australia. For commodity lines such as truss and field tomatoes, the domestic market in Australia is typically driven by supply and demand and prices, thus tend to fluctuate, but for speciality tomatoes such as cocktail truss and snacking tomatoes prices are often fixed at a specific price point.

For more information:
Cameron Smith
Costa Group
Tel: + 61 3 8363 9025
Email: cameron.smith@costagroup.com.au

Publication date: 3/5/2014
Author: Nichola McGregor
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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