Simon J. Costa

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Simon J. Costa appointed Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia by the Governor of Victoria, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC.

Simon John Costa AO (born February 9, 1967 in Geelong, Victoria) is an Australian businessman, philanthropist and humanitarian. He has led large private, public and not-for-profit ventures and dedicated much of his life to private initiatives for the public good.


Costa is the great-grandson of Italian and Irish immigrants who arrived in Australia during the 1880s.[1]. His ancestors settled in Geelong (Victoria), where they established a fruit and vegetable retail store which remained the principal family business until the 1960’s, when Costa’s father (Adrian) and uncle (Frank) expanded into fresh produce wholesaling. Costa’s parents, Adrian and Mary, died in an automobile accident in 1972 [1][2][3], leaving Costa, his elder brother Paul (b. 1964), elder sister Catherine (b.1965) and younger sister Sally (b. 1969) orphaned at young ages.

Despite early industry challenges[4], the Costa family business grew to become one of Australia’s largest privately-owned businesses, before being listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in July 2015[5][6]. Simon Costa succeeded Frank Costa as the Group Managing Director of the Costa Group of Companies in April 2004[2][3].

In 2012, Costa resigned from all corporate responsibilities and commenced a full-time voluntary role with the United Nations, World Food Programme[7][8].


Costa attended primary school at St. Josephs College Geelong[9], Victoria, before transferring to complete his secondary education in Kilmore, where he was a boarder at Assumption College from 1981 to 1985[10]. A promising sportsman, he suffered a near fatal head injury on the playing field in 1984, which prevented him from participating in any further contact sport. Costa is currently the President of the Assumption College Old Collegians Association (ACKOCA)[11][12].

Costa completed post-graduate studies at Deakin University[13], Monash University[14] and Harvard University[15].


Costa was invited to join the family business in 1992, following a mandatory five years employment with other organisations[2][3]. His initial years were spent working in the existing retail, wholesale and export divisions, before taking over the expanding Costa Logistics business in 1996. In 1999 he was promoted to the role of Chief Operating Officer of the Costa Group of Companies, responsible for the performance of 17 operating divisions[3]. During this time, he was jointly responsible for introducing the 'Character First!' leadership initiative across all business units. Developing a culture of character[16] and investing in advanced business management systems, contributed to the organisation achieving strong increases in scale, profitability and geographic breadth over the following decade.

In April 2004, Costa was appointed Group CEO and Managing Director of the Costa Group of Companies[2][3]. Business expansion from organic growth, joint ventures and industry acquisitions, including Chiquita Brands South Pacific[17], positioned the Costa Group as Australia's largest horticultural company, with diversified operations across the supply chain, from farming and packing to marketing and large-scale distribution, both domestically and internationally. Costa was appointed CEO of the publicly listed Chiquita Brands / Costa Exchange[18] in January 2010, but stepped down as CEO of the overall Group of Companies prior to the family entering into a strategic partnership with Paine + Partners in 2011[19]. The Costa Group of Companies was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in July 2015[6].


Throughout his business career, Costa dedicated much of his private life to supporting charitable activities.  In addition to being an Executive Board member of Vic Relief and Foodbank[20], he regularly participated in voluntary activities to assist local and international not-for-profit organisations, raising over $500,000 in the process. Most notably, in 2004 he cycled 1,100 kilometres across Europe to generate awareness and funds for Muscular Dystrophy and the 'Very Special Kids' charitable foundation[3][21][22]. In 2008 Costa climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise financial support for an orphanage established specifically for HIV-infected children in South Africa[23][24].


In April 2012, Costa commenced a full-time voluntary role with the United Nations, World Food Programme[7][8] as Food Security Advisor for Sub-Saharan Africa. Focusing on the crippling levels of food loss occurring in the region annually and its direct contribution to widespread starvation and poverty, Costa initiated a sustainable development strategy for reducing post-harvest crop losses, significantly benefiting millions of low-income families and farming communities throughout developing regions of Africa[25][26][27][28]. The measurable and sustainable impact of his team's work was recognized by the United Nations WFP in 2015, receiving the Global Innovation Challenge Award for the Most Impactful Humanitarian Innovation.

In September 2016 Costa was appointed a Director of the United Nations World Food Programme and given the role as Global Head of a Strategic Alliance between the United Nations and 7 private and public partner organizations, seeking sustainable solutions to the major systemic problems affecting food systems in developing countries[29][30][31][32]. Utilizing the expertise of global industry leaders to educate and empower farmers, as well as mobilizing local partners, the consortium established an effective pathway for global food security, greatly reducing poverty and starvation in the process.

Costa has also provided support in assisting East Timor and Australia to reach agreement regarding a maritime boundary in the Timor Sea[33][34].  Along with former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks AC, Former East Timor President Xanana Gusmão and East Timor Ambassador to Australia Abel Guterres, Costa lobbied for a fair conciliation process to resolve the long-disputed maritime boundary between Australia and East Timor. An agreement was finally reached between the two countries in 2018[35][36][37].   


In the 2019 Australia Day Honours[38], Costa was appointed an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia by the Governor-General of Australia, for distinguished service to business and humanity[39][40][41].  

In 2016, Costa was awarded the Pride of Australia Medal for his services to support the disadvantaged overseas and within Australian society[42][43].  

Costa has also been the leader of numerous teams honored for excellence. Awards include the United Nations WFP Global Innovation Award for the Most Impactful Humanitarian Innovation [2015][44]; the Australian Family Business of the Year [2008][45]; the Australian Agribusiness Leader of the Year [2006][46]; the Australian Agribusiness Employer of Choice Award [2006][47] and Australia’s Leading Transport and Logistics provider [2009][48]


  1. ^ a b Hui, Jin (2017-07-03). "History Repeated:". Geelong Coast Magazine. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  2. ^ a b c d Tobin, Des (2007). Family, Faith and Footy. Killaghy Publishing.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Hougaz, Laura (2015). Entrepreneurs in Family Business Dynasties. Springer Publishing. pp. 92–93.
  4. ^ "Frank Costa's Mafia Fight".
  5. ^ "Overseas sale for Costa Group".
  6. ^ a b "Costa Group float raises $551 million".
  7. ^ a b "World Food Programme (WFP) is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations and the world's largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security".
  8. ^ a b "Why I Gave Up My Job As A Major Company Boss To Volunteer For WFP".
  9. ^ "St. Joseph's College, Geelong".
  10. ^ "Assumption College, Kilmore".
  11. ^ "President, Assumption College Old Collegians".
  12. ^ "Letter from the President" (PDF).
  13. ^ Deakin University (1986-1987): Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Laws (def)
  14. ^ Monash University (2001-2003): Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)
  15. ^ Harvard University (2003-2004): Executive Leadership Program
  16. ^ "People First at Costa Logistics".
  17. ^ "Chiquita bends to Tradefresh Takeover".
  18. ^ "Costa Exchange CEO steps down".
  19. ^ "Paine & Partners Makes Strategic Investment in the Costa Group".
  20. ^ "Foodbank Annual Report 2010/2011" (PDF).
  21. ^ "Fight for life inspires marathon".
  22. ^ "Simon Costa in training".
  23. ^ "Climbing mountains for Sparrow kids".
  24. ^ "Champion fundraiser".
  25. ^ "Reducing the World's Greatest Solvable Problem" (PDF).
  26. ^ "What's the World's Greatest Solvable Problem?".
  27. ^ "Former horticulturalist volunteers with UN's World Food Program to find storage solutions for African grain".
  28. ^ "Shane Healy interview of Simon J. Costa".
  29. ^ "Educate, equip, empower: A strong mandate for agriculture partnerships".
  30. ^ "Farm to Market Alliance".
  31. ^ "Public-private partnerships – Lessons for successful PPPs".
  32. ^ Ray Carroll (21 February 2017). "Simon's Mission". NORTH CENTRAL & WHITTLESEA REVIEW / THE FREE PRESS. p. 33.
  33. ^ "The Hague revives maritime border dispute between Timor-Leste and Australia".
  34. ^ "East Timor-Australia maritime border dispute set to be negotiated at The Hague".
  35. ^ "Australia and Timor Leste settle maritime boundary after 45 years of bickering".
  36. ^ "Australia, East Timor sign deal on maritime border".
  37. ^ "Treaty between Australia and the Democratic Republic of Timor-leste establishing their maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea" (PDF).
  39. ^ "Top Award for Anti-Poverty Work".
  40. ^ "Simon Costa: How one man has changed the lives of millions".
  41. ^ "From Australia to Africa".
  42. ^ Fixing the World’s Problems Wigney, James. Published Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun Newspaper. 22 January, 2017
  43. ^ "Pride of Australia 2016".
  44. ^ United Nations World Food Programme, Media Centre, 27 January 2016
  45. ^ NAB Leadership Awards, News Release, May 14 2008
  46. ^ "Costa Group harvests bountiful crop in agribusiness awards".
  47. ^ "Costa Group harvests bountiful crop in agribusiness awards".
  48. ^ "Mercury Awards winners".