Mar 1, 2024
Driscoll’s takes large stake in Costa Group to grow global berry business

As a critical strategic partner, Driscoll’s is part of an experienced North American based consortium led by Paine Schwartz Partners and including British Columbia Investment Management Corporation that has completed the purchase of Costa Group, Australia’s leading grower, packer and marketer of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Costa was started in the late 1800s by the Costa family in Geelong Victoria, Australia. It has since grown into a leading global horticultural company whose agronomic expertise and innovation are widely acknowledged. The company has a unique and valuable portfolio of premium quality fresh produce, including the growing, marketing and supply of blueberries, glasshouse tomatoes, citrus, avocados, mushrooms, and table grapes. Its production and grower network spans every state of Australia, China, Morocco and southern Africa.  Costa products are sold into numerous countries around the world, including throughout Europe, UK, Asia and North America.

Costa is recognized as an industry leader in the development of genetics and new plant varieties, especially blueberries. In 2023 alone, it launched a record four new blueberry varieties with a strong forward pipeline of products to fuel future growth.

This new ownership arrangement is part of a logical progression of the relationship between Driscoll’s and Costa, which began in 2010. The two companies equally own a joint venture in Australia, which is now the leading marketer of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries in the country. Driscoll’s also has an expansion program in the Americas using Costa blueberry varieties. In 2016, Driscoll’s and Costa formalized a joint venture that oversaw the two companies starting a berry production company in China.

“We welcome the Costa Group into the Driscoll’s family and look forward to deepening our relationship with even more deliberate collaboration across the globe,” said Soren Bjorn, CEO of Driscoll’s. “This is one of the largest equity investments Driscoll’s has ever made, which speaks to the formidable partnership and considerable value we see in the Costa portfolio and the company’s long-term future and growth prospects.”

To start, Driscoll’s and Costa will be working on specific projects to grow the global berry business. Their existing arrangements in China, Australia and the Americas will also continue unaffected.

Over the past few decades, Paine Schwartz Partners has invested $5.7 billion in agriculture and the food supply chain, which includes a prior equity stake in Costa. Its other investments include companies that grow premium fresh produce, such as Monterey Mushrooms, as well as ag-tech companies, including AgroFresh.

British Columbia Investment Management Corporation is a global institutional investor, with $233 billion in gross assets under management. Its investment in agricultural assets includes an ownership stake in Viterra and mushroom and citrus businesses.

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