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17 April, 2020

How Corona has affected Corona

One of the ironies of Coronavirus is that with the closure of pubs and clubs across Australia, people have stopped drinking Corona’s.

By Phil Brandel

One of the ironies of Coronavirus is that with the closure of pubs and clubs across Australia, people have stopped ordering their Corona’s with lime.

On top of this add vodka lime and soda, mojito’s and the hundreds of other drinks and meals that require lime and there is now a lime slump affecting Tablelands farmers.

Jose and Debbie Caamano from Quality Caamano Fruits in Mareeba have said they felt the closure of pubs, clubs and restaurants almost immediately.

“It’s a challenging time for us but we’re just taking it day by day. The shutting down of the hospitality industry has hit us hard.” Jose said

“Limes make everything better—in the kitchen for flavouring, in your favourite drink… and being anti-bacterial, they make excellent homemade cleaning products too.”

Debbie said that their sales are down at least 50% on last year.

“We are throwing away or donating bins of fruit because the agents only want first grade,” she said

“At the moment we are getting 9 -10 dollars a box, over Christmas we were getting around 30 dollars a box.

“As soon as the bars and pubs closed the slump on limes was immediate,

“We already had fruit on the way when the closures came in so we donated that to food bank.”

Jose added that “We harvest our limes all year round by picking small volumes of fruit from each tree as it becomes ready,

“We’re no strangers to overcoming challenges. Last year we lost trees to a bushfire and in the same week had large frosts.

“COVID-19 has brought new challenges with our seasonal workers and backpackers, but we’ve put measures in place so that everyone on the farm remains safe and employed and we’ll have our workforce ready to go when restrictions are lifted.”

Gerard Kath the President of Papaya Australia said that Papaya (pawpaw) has also seen massive drops in demand but for different reasons.

“The closure of the pubs and clubs didn’t hurt Papaya farmers as hard as lime farmers, but we do sell a lot of tropical fruits to the airlines and international hotels and that has really hit us hard,” he said

“Going back a few weeks ago, the demand for fruit was really strong, because people were panic buying, and then a few weeks after that, the demand fell for Papaya and discretionary fruits.

“We have seen a 50 per cent drop in demand, across the board,

“A lot of farmers have had to drop production, they have started culling some of their old blocks”

Joe Moro, the Chair of FNQ Growers said some fruit and vegetable commodities were already feeling the impact of  COVID-19 restrictions. “The market for some produce including the bottom end of the for avocadoes, limes, melons and papayas has been lost, as a consequence of the forced closure of some sections of the hospitality trade,” Mr Moro said.

“We are also receiving reports of price reductions in some fresh food markets as household budgets are impacted and consumers electing not to buy foods, they consider luxuries, leading farmers to leave to produce in the field.”


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