Bright future for berries

A BERRY distribution centre in the North West is set for an upgrade regardless of which party wins the Federal election this weekend.

Both the Liberals and ALP have pledged $2 million for Costa Group’s distribution centre at East Devonport, which packs both Costa and Driscoll’s growers berries.

The investment would help expand Costa’s current East Devonport centre capacity from around 12,000 tonnes to more than 17,000 tonnes for the 2026/2027 season. The expansion would also create another 140 full-time jobs and support more than 1,000 new harvest season jobs.

A recent report shows the berry industry is Tasmania’s most significant fresh produce sector, with a farm gate value of $125 million. That is almost half of the $270 million the fresh produce industry in Tasmania contributes directly to the state’s economy each year.

Costa horticultural company and its Driscoll’s independent grower network in Tasmania employ a large percentage of the 2,700 full-time workers in the fresh produce industry. To grow further Costa has planned a $6 million expansion of its East Devonport centre.

“We’re pretty excited for it to go ahead, we’ve struggled for space these last few seasons,” Costa distribution centre assistant manager Chris Philpott said. “It’s getting us ready for a jump in volume over the next five years, growers are planning for it, farms are planning for it, now we’ll be ready for it.”

Labor’s Braddon candidate Chris Lynch said the statistics showed Tasmania was becoming the berry isle. “It is also a major international player in agricultural technology, which means we can produce the finest quality berries with superior flavour for up to eight months of the year,” Mr Lynch said. “This project will create more economic activity in our region.”

Liberal Member for Braddon Gavin Pearce said supporting local manufacturing and agriculture processing projects in Braddon and Northern Tasmania would have a positive impact on the economy and provide more employment opportunities over the long term.

“Regional Australia makes a significant contribution to Australia’s manufacturing capability and the Coalition Government is committed to seeing this grow,” Mr Pearce said.