It all started when Francesco Costa, a wine producer from Salina, Italy, migrated to Australia to raise funds for his vineyard. He worked in Melbourne, Colac and Geelong before returning to Italy in 1895.
In 1903, Francesco sent his two eldest sons away because the vineyard could not support them. One of his sons, Joe, migrated and settled in Australia. In 1926 another brother, Tony, migrated to Australia to work for Joe. Within a few years, Tony had set up his own business – a small fruit shop in Warrnambool.
1937 was a significant year for the Costa business in Australia. Tony married Mary Piccone and also entered a partnership at Geelong Covent Garden with Joe. The Covent Garden food store and fruit shop was originally established in 1888 by Mrs Bourke, a resident of Geelong.
In 1938, Tony and Mary took over as sole owners of the fruit shop. The business thrived and some twenty years later, Tony and Mary’s eldest sons (Frank and Adrian) bought the fruit shop from their parents and expanded into the wholesale provedore business.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the business continued to grow and change. New partners Anthony, Kevin and Robert joined, and the business began supplying fresh fruit and vegetables to supermarket chains. Costa Wholesale and Distribution relocated to Gordon Avenue, Geelong.
By the 1980s Costa Company was trading directly from the Melbourne Wholesale Markets in Footscray, with distribution centres in Werribee South, Shepparton and Monbulk. The operation included pre-packing, shipping and interstate trade. The company was now one of Australia’s largest wholesale distributors and exporters of fresh fruit and vegetables.
In 2011, after 118 years of the Costa Group being tightly held in the Family, the Costa brothers moved the company from exclusive family ownership and it is now listed on the ASX. At this point, Anthony and Robert together with both their families, formed the investment company known as Costa Asset Management Pty Ltd.