Driscoll’s Buys Costa Group

Deal to grow the global berry business
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Driscoll's berries
Driscoll's has made one of its largest equity investments with its new ownership arrangement with Costa.

Berry provider Driscoll’s, part of a North American-based consortium led by Paine Schwartz Partners and including British Columbia Investment Management Corp., has completed the purchase of Costa Group, Australia’s leading grower, packer and marketer of fresh fruits 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. Costa has a unique 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, as well as China, Morocco and southern Africa. Costa products are sold in numerous countries around the world, including throughout Europe, the United Kingdom, Asia and North America.

[RELATED: Driscoll’s Names New Chief Commercial Officer]

Costa is also 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.

Driscoll’s and Costa's relationship 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.

To kick off the new ownership arrangement, Driscoll’s and Costa will work on specific projects to grow the global berry business. Their existing arrangements in China, Australia and the Americas will also continue unaffected.

“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 Watsonville, Calif.-based 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.”

With more than 100 years of farming heritage, Driscoll’s has become the global market leader of fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Driscoll’s develops exclusive patented berry varieties using only traditional breeding methods, with more than 900 independent growers around the world. Its berries are grown in more than 20 countries and are available for consumers in 40-plus countries across North America, Australia, Europe and China.

Over the past few decades, New York-based 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. Victoria-based British Columbia Investment Management Corp. 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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