Agribusiness buzz in brief

Agribusiness buzz in brief


A quick look at what's happening and what some key players are up to around the traps in the agribusiness sector


Costa bruised by tough season

Big horticultural business, Costa Group, has conceded it may encounter more downside risks in the coming six months after being caught by a variety of unexpected adverse conditions since January, including a surprising drop in mushroom demand.

Costa, Australia's biggest horticultural farming and wholesale marketing business, has investments in avocados, berries, mushrooms, tomatoes, citrus, table grapes and bananas.

It has encountered big rises in water costs, varying raspberry quality, and fruit fly problems for its citrus crops, plus production setbacks for its Moroccan blueberry business.

While announcing a 15 per cent drop in profit after tax to $41.1 million for the half year to June 30, chief executive officer, Harry Debney said lower mushroom demand had caught the company by surprise and he was unsure what had disrupted sales.

However, total revenue lifted 12pc to $573m.

Costa will pay an interim dividend of 3.5 cents a share on October 3.

Costa Group, which has 3500 hectares of horticultural crops, including 30ha under glasshouse, reported two previous market outlook downgrades this year and weathered a big slump in its share price after it neared $9 a year ago.

The share price fell to $2.95 in late August, recovering to about $3.50 this week.


Bega board appointment

Although still missing its executive chairman, Barry Irvine, who is recovering from cancer surgery, Bega Cheese has added a new director to its board.

Patria Mann, an accountant and former partner with KPMG, has more than 16 years board experience in the consumer staples sector.

Former deputy chairman, Max Roberts, is expecting to fill the Bega board chairman's role until the end of the year while Mr Irvin continues his extended leave, undergoing chemotherapy and recovering from his May surgery.


Landmark-Ruralco MD speaks

The future for the newly-merged Landmark-Ruralco business will be addressed when Landmark managing director, Rob Clayton, speaks to the agribusiness sector in Sydney later this month.

Mr Clayton is special guest at the September 27 NSW Farm Writers' Association lunch, just days before the newly minted farm services giant is expected to begin trading as part of Canadian-owned Nutrien's global agribusiness stable.

He will talk about Nutrien's plans in Australia and what's ahead for the big new-look Landmark-Ruralco company, including its CRT merchandise brand.

  • To book, contact


Ruralco curtain closes

Hot on the heels of last week's shareholder vote approving the company's sale to Nutrien, Ruralco shares are due to cease trading on the Australian Securities Exchange today (September 13).

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission received orders from the Federal Court of Australia approving the scheme of arrangement between Ruralco and Landmark's parent this week.

The takeover is due to be fully implemented on September 30.


Elders chairman swap

Mike Carroll

Mike Carroll

Recently appointed Elders board chairman, Mike Carroll, has decided to stand down, but will continue to be a director on the historic farm services company board.

Ian Wilton, has been elected to replace Mr Carroll, a former National Australia Bank agribusiness head, who joined the Elders board a year ago, becoming chairman in December.

Mr Wilton has been an Elders director since 2014 and previously held executive management roles with CSR's sugar business, Ridley Corporation, GrainCorp, and was chief executive officer of GrainCorp Malt.

He is also chairman of the Sheep CRC and Australian Innovation Company, a director of Tivoli Investments, and chairs the advisory board of MacKays Banana Marketing.


Wine chief retiring

Wine Australia chairman, Brian Walsh, will step down on September 30 after five years in the role.

"Brian has made an unparalleled contribution to the Australian grape and wine community as chair of Wine Australia at the most critical moment of its modern history," said long-term board director Brian Croser.

'Faced with a retreating sector after the global financial crisis and the challenge of merging two statutory organisations, he has led a consensus board and motivated the executive team to meet the challenges.

"Largely due to his considerate leadership, Wine Australia has been highly effective in elevating Australia's fine wine image in global markets."

Agriculture Minister, Senator Bridget McKenzie has also congratulated Mr Walsh on a job well done.

'In 2014, when Brian started, Australian wine exports sat at $1.8 billion which has since climbed to $2.8 billion, which is a massive 57 per cent increase," she said.

Wine Australia formed in 2014 after a merger of Wine Australia Corporation and the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation.


Startup offer at EvokeAg

AgriFutures Australia is offering four fresh opportunities for agrifood tech "startup" businesses to make their mark at next February's EvokeAg event in Melbourne.

Startups will be able to showcase their ideas to an international audience, build their customer base and help solve today's global agricultural challenges.

AgriFutures managing director, John Harvey, said the 2020 event would provide opportunities for startups to build their customer base, whilst also ensuring they have exposure to possible investors.

The startup showcase would complement the wider event program, exposing participants to an international audience.

"This is an opportunity to network, build relationships and take your business to the next level," Mr Harvey said.

"This year we had 1100 delegates at our event representing a cross-section of industries including corporates, investors, government and other key stakeholders from all over the world - it's a melting pot for budding businesses."

  • Applications close on September 13. For more information visit:

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