Costa Group buys avocado business

Horticultural company Costa Group has signed an agreement for the acquisition of the Lankester Avocado orchards and packing operations from the Lankester family.

There are total plantings of 130 hectares across the three farms with the season running from February through to June. An additional 60 hectares will be planted over the coming 12 months.

“With the current circa 370 hectares of avocados Costa has in central Queensland and the South Australian Riverland, this acquisition will bring the Company’s total plantings to circa 500 hectares and allow us to continue to build our production scale”, said Harry Debney, CEO Costa Group.

The acquisition agreement has been entered into in conjunction with Macquarie Agricultural Funds Management (MAFM). Under the agreement, MAFM will purchase the farms and enter into a 20-year lease with Costa to operate them. This is the second acquisition under an arrangement between the two parties (announced in December 2016) to jointly consider M&A projects.

The Lankester family will remain with the business to perform key management and operational roles.

“The Lankester family have been in the Atherton region for many years and they have built their business into one that has a strong market presence with opportunity for future growth, which Costa found to be an attractive proposition when considering our next avocado investment”, said Debney.

The acquisition is expected be completed by the end of July 2017. The acquisition price will not be publicly disclosed at the request of the parties.

Breakthrough technology stops browning of avocadoes

Naruto All Natural Technologies says it has developed a natural processing technology which stops browning of freshly cut avocado and prolongs shelf life.

The Australian invention not only stops the browning of cut (or pulped) avocado fruit for a minimum of 10 days when refrigerated (even after packaging is opened), but does so using a natural process which preserves the nutritional properties and taste of the avocado without chemicals, additives, preservatives or processing aids.

The secret of Naturo’s ‘Natavo Zero’ technology, lies in the company’s ability to switch off the enzyme responsible for the fruit’s browning via pressure fluctuations generated by steam.

An important advantage of the process is the elimination of potential pathogens beyond the limits set by the strictest international safety codes. This ensures that all treated products are completely safe for the consumer.

G. L-R, Naturo directors Frank Schreiber and Jeff Hastings in Australia with their ATM

The technology is capable of processing any cut of avocado or avocado pulp at the rate of about 4,000 avocado fruits per hour providing cost-effective, energy efficient and reliable processing via a machine the company has fondly named the ‘Avocado Time Machine’ (ATM).  Each machine is designed and manufactured by Naturo to the customer’s specific requirements and can be shipped anywhere in the world.

“By understanding the avocado’s lifecycle and the complex correlation of enzymes involved in the browning process, we have made it possible for the world to enjoy 100% natural, ready-to-eat avocado slices, dices, chunks or pulped products while retaining the flavor and fresh taste of avocado, without browning,” said Naturo Director, Jeff Hastings (picture right).

Fellow Director Frank Schreiber (pictured left) said that the arrival of the technology would open up new markets and new opportunities for fresh and frozen avocado products.

“Although there is a range of avocado products currently on the market, nearly all of them contain additives such as antioxidants, acids and preservatives which not only alter the taste of the fruit but do very little to stop the browning once the packaging is opened.”