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Australia’s largest horticultural company, Costa Group, says first-half profit fell 75 per cent to $7.1 million.

Profit for the six months to December 30, excluding material items and amortisation, dropped from $29 million a year prior.

Revenue for the same period was down 2.3 per cent to $477.6 million.

‘The six-month financial period to December has delivered a lower profit number than expected,’ Costa chief executive Harry Debney said.

Costa said its raspberry contribution was disappointing, and its citrus crops were in an off-year as part of its normal biennial fruit production schedule.

The company also took majority ownership of Moroccan blueberry producer African Blue, which hurt its balance sheet.

On the plus side, Nangiloc Coligan Farms in northwestern Victoria, which Costa bought last year for $50 million, had produced an initial harvest that exceeded Costa’s acquisition.

Costa is looking to export afourer mandarins and navel oranges from the 567-hectare farm in the Sunraysia region.

Costa also expects to export more produce to South Korea as tariffs are further reduced as part of the 2014 Korea-Australia free-trade agreement.

Costa said it will be growing a new truss tomato variety that should offer better shelf life and yield.

It is also building an 10-hectare high-tech greenhouse in Guyra, NSW, for growing specialty and snacking tomatoes.

Costa held its dividend at 5.0 cents, fully franked.

Costa shares were up 1.54 per cent, or eight cents, to $5.28 at 1041 AEDT.