THE amount of citrus to go through the Central Fruit Packers plant in Mundubbera this year will be about 40,000 bins of produce.
This equates to between 1.2 and 1.6 million boxes of fruit, including navels, imperials, lemons, tangelos, Taylor Lees and, for export, low-seed Murcott and Murcotts.
Plant manager Brent Chambers said the season had started with a bang and the shed was already processing 200 bins of citrus a day made up of lemons, imperials and navels.
“Here it is Sunday and we are employing 85 staff now and that is set to increase as we settle into the
Central Fruit Packers in Mundubbera employs more than 100 people in at the height of the season. season,” Mr Chambers said.
“We have 35 Tongans here to help us out. The other workers are made up from locals and backpackers.
“There has been an increase of local workers this year by about six on last year.”
Mr Chambers said the season had started well and on time.
“One thing I can say is the quality of the fruit is extraordinary. We have not been able to keep up with the first-grade fruit side of the plant because there is very little second grade,” he said.
“The orchardists need to be congratulated for the way they have looked after their crop this year because it is almost faultless.”
Most of the foreign workers working on the line are packing citrus for the domestic markets.
Nati Afaeki, a 26-year-old Tongan, said she was in Australia for six months to work in the packing shed.
“I left my husband at home to look after the family so I can come here to work,” Mrs Afaeki said.
“The hourly rate that I get paid is so much more than I could ever earn in Tonga and on Sundays it is even better.”
The fruit is transported to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
PACKERS: Georgia Jensen, Buddy Allison, Nati Afaeki, Leah Dalpha, Sharron McDonald, Drew Allison, Emma McDonald, Tracey Warrick and Harry Kim.