Gulf and Peninsula News

Skybury reap fruits of their labour

Skybury General Manager Candy MacLaughlin is ecstatic after the business was able to break a farm record for papaya production recently.

TABLELANDS business Skybury achieved a farm record recently as they picked over 100,000 kilograms and packaged almost 20,000 cartons of papaya.

The record comes as a result of an expansion plan that the family owned and operated business has implemented over the past 18 months, where they look to capitalise on a papaya market that has the potential to grow exponentially. Skybury General Manager Candy MacLaughlin said the business is looking to add greater versatility to their current model.

“The statistics show us that roughly 15 per cent of Australians eat papaya, so we’re hoping to be able to grow that by 5 per cent,” she said.

“And we’re not just doing this to experience growth for ourselves; we want fellow papaya farmers to do the same as everyone benefits when the industry grows as a whole.”

While their recent farm record indicates the efficiency of their expansion strategies to date, Ms MacLaughlin noted their plans to further bolster production.

“We surpassed our previous production record for papayas by about 5 per cent,” she said.

“However we haven’t reached our growth trajectory yet and we’re estimating we’ll grow by another 20 per cent – of which is dependent on how successful we are in terms of our plantings and how much land we turn into production.

“And we are aiming to achieve that by August, so it will be quite sharp.”

Ms MacLaughlin said in addition to Skybury experiencing an uptick in trade as a result of greater papaya production, she also noted that they have placed a focus on promoting the enormous health benefi ts papaya consumption provides.

“We want really want to get people eating papaya,” she said.

“It is filled with anti-oxidants, peptides and vitamins and is a critical thing to be eating in the winter months.

“It’s also extremely versatile; in the café for example we make soups, jams, chutneys and salsas that include papaya.

“And we do that through value-adding, by taking papaya that has a blemish and isn’t market ready and using it to create other products.”

Ms McLaughlin said she would like to thank Skybury’s staff of 80 people who work tirelessly around the clock.

“They are a great team who pushed together to achieve this production record,” she said.

Ms McLaughlin said the driver behind this expansion was her father Ian MacLaughlin, who oversees the entire operation in his role as Skybury Director.

“He’s great at what he does and he was recently nominated for the Syngenta Grower of the Year to be presented in Melbourne next week, the only grower of which is from Queensland,” she said.

Ms MacLaughlin said for those interested in purchasing Skybury papaya, they can do so at the Rusty’s Markets or Simon George & Sons in Cairns, Coles in Mareeba or at the Skybury Café & Roastery on 136 Ivicevic Rd, Paddys Green.

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