Where the Picky Packers Hostel in North Burnett, Queensland, would normally house hundreds of backpackers for the citrus harvest, this year it's almost empty. According to owner Mark Postle, this is a worrying situation; the citrus industry is worth more than $100 million to the region's economy each year.
North Burnett is the biggest producer of mandarins in Australia, and requires about 2,000 workers during the peak of the harvest in Gayndah and Mundubbera.
Abc.net.au reports that industry experts warn that prices for produce would rise due to reduced supply to the supermarkets. The Department of Agriculture has forecast fruit prices may increase up to 30 per cent due to the labour shortage.