FOR the Vassallo farm family from Sydney’s north-west fringe, the suspension of cruising has been a body blow to their thriving Gourmet Herbs business nurtured over 20 years.
“We can’t wait for the cruise ships to return because they are such a huge part of our business,” Jane Vassallo said. “I do understand not being able to go overseas at the moment but if we were just allowed to travel around Australia that would be awesome.”
Head of Carnival Australia supply chain, Jeremy Goodman, said farmers who supply cruise lines are the epitome of resilience overcoming challenges quite apart from the pandemic with extreme weather conditions also taking a toll.
“The pandemic has been a big hit for our farm suppliers and for everyone involved in getting the produce to the ships,” Mr Goodman said. “There is a huge supply chain that goes into making the magic that is cruise.”
Corporate Executive Chef Uwe Stiefel said the farm visits will become a regular feature for Australia’s largest cruise organisation.
“We already have a lot of contact with the farmers through our regular visits to the markets but it is certainly on our agenda to make more of these farm visits,” Mr Stiefel said. “They grow the produce that we serve to our guests and crew and the farm visits help us understand the challenges they face.”
Fresh produce wholesaler Paul Nelson from In2Food said farmers had grown their businesses in line with the growth of cruise and the pandemic had taken them back to where they were a decade or more ago.
“It is heartbreaking to see farm families doing it so tough,” Mr Nelson said. “It is totally essential for cruising to return. These farm suppliers have focused on cruise for the past 10 years.”