Mildura Fruit Company has started another busy season of packing and is well through its crop of early season navel varieties, according to Marcus Scott MFCs Sales Manager. Demand has been excellent. The domestic market has been particularly buoyant this year and he expects this trend to continue.
"The fruit has a little more blemish than we would have liked but this is not unexpected as we have come off a tough growing season with consistent winds through December and January when the fruit is at its most sensitive. We could have also done with more rain as two very dry years has also taken its toll. The size of the early fruit is slightly up on last year and as we progress into the mid and late varieties we expect the size to be more in the large to medium bracket which is ideal. It’s well known that the eating quality of Australian citrus is a major selling point and if the early fruit is anything to go by we are in for a excellent year in regards to taste, it really is eating extremely well."
The harvest will start to ramp up in about a fortnight’s time which will coincide with the start of the Washington and Cara Cara crop and see it peaking late July / August leading into the Afourer mandarin and Late Lane navel programs.
"MFC through its partnership with Ventnor Grove in QLD will also start its Honey Murcott varieties in the coming weeks and it is very pleasing that the northern states are also enjoying the same eating qualities as down south.
"Regarding the packing shed, we have put in many new procedures to ensure the safety of our staff and of course to ensure we remain open for our supply from our growers to get through the harvest in a timely manner. In line with good hygiene practices, we have installed over 20 new hand wash stations and we have installed additional toilet facilities; temperature checks on all staff are mandatory at commencement of work. Two non-permanent smoko rooms have been set-up and packing shifts have been put in place to ensure separation of staff and allow sanitisation of the work stations and facilities between shifts.
"The initial concern over shortage of staff both in the packing shed and fruit picking has not materialised and we are seeing many people looking for employment. Hopefully labour does not become an issue as Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed.
"Demand for our fruit is certainly very strong as customers are purchasing our fruit not only for the great eating characteristics but also for the health benefits particularly its ability to combat colds and flus. Mildura Fruit Company exports to over 30 countries and this helps to find buyers for all grades and sizes of fruits and this season is no different. A wise old man once told me that anyone can sell the Scotch Fillet; at MFC we pride ourselves on selling the whole beast!
"The was some early concerns on potential shortage of containers due to disruption on shipping, but this seems to have been rectified by most shipping lines although I do believe that availability of plugs on certain vessels could be a bit tight for certain Asian destinations."