Corindi berry farm benefits from $47m cash injection

AUSTRALIA'S largest grower, packer and marketer of fresh fruit and vegetables, is expanding its berry farms in Corindi.

The Costa Group's Corindi facilities, which grow blueberries and raspberries, are expected to expand by 55 hectares by 2017, with 24 hectares planted this year.

It's just one of Costa's planned expansions, along with Far North Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia.

At completion, plantings Australia-wide will total 195 hectares at an estimated cost of $47 million.

The Costa Group will use these expansions to fill winter production gaps, expand growth in blueberries and provide additional volume to meet the growing demand for raspberries.

It will be paid for by Costa's recent stock market debut, which raised $551 million in capital, $60 million of which came from UK-based Mondrian Investment Partners.

Harry Debney, chief executive of the company, said investors should be very happy with Costa's recent successes.

"We have a strong performing company and a very strong growth plan put in place," he said.

Mr Debney said without the injection of funds from foreign groups like Mondrian, and Paine and Partners, a US equity firm that entered a joint venture with the Costa Group in 2011, Costa may have had to sell some of its business.

"Unfortunately agriculture has been a less attractive area for Australian companies to invest," he said.

"So that's why I welcome properly credentialed people with proper values to come in."

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