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Carnival’s Sture Myrmell goes down on the farm!

December 7, 2020 Cruise, Headline News No Comments Email Email

Sture Myrmell, President of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia, has been down on the farm to meet farmers on the north-western fringe of Sydney and are longstanding suppliers to Carnival Australia brand ships accounting for thousands of tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables and herbs, who have been hit hard by the suspension of cruising during the pandemic.Manuel Xerri, who farms a 600-acre property with his brother Frank, said the farm’s output and income had been slashed by 40% or more while cruising has been paused, saying, “We never expected something like this, no one could have imagined it,” adding, “We really need the cruise ships to sail again, it is our livelihood and it isn’t easy, without them we can’t keep going.”

Sture’s farm tour also called at Gourmet Herbs where the Vassallo family, Jane, Marce and son James, produce a range of niche market micro herbs, zucchini flowers and edible flowers, with their business devastated by the cessation of cruising and he also visited Matthew Attard who supplies cabbage, iceberg lettuce and cauliflower, who having increased output over 10 years of supplying cruise lines, has now seen a big reduction in activity.

On the Xerri farm Manuel gave Sture a walking tour of the property which has a ploughed field that is ready for sowing a new crop when cruising gets the green light to resume, with Sture adding, “It is great to come out here and meet farmers like Manuel and to see where our product comes from knowing that these are people who are doing it tough, and “We are looking forward to being back in business and able to support the farmers, with 2021 going to be a better year than 2020 and we are optimistic that we will be sailing again soon.”

At Gourmet Herbs, the Vassallo family said the suspension of cruising was a body blow to what had been a thriving business for nearly 20 years, with Jane Vassallo saying, “We can’t wait for the cruise ships to return because they are such a huge part of our business,” adding, “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.”

Jeremy Goodman, Head of Carnival Australia supply chain, who it is believed joined Sture on his tour 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, adding, “The pandemic has been a big hit for our farm suppliers and for everyone involved in getting the produce to the ships,” and “There is a huge supply chain that goes into making the magic that is cruise.”

Corporate Executive Chef Uwe Stiefel who it is also believed joined Sture on his tour 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,” adding. “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, saying, “It is heart breaking to see farm families doing it so tough,” and, “It is totally essential for cruising to return, with these farm suppliers focussed on cruise for the past 10 years.

A report by John Alwyn-Jones

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