At the height of the wave season, Select Fresh Providores would supply fruit and vegetables to all the major cruise lines: P&O Cruises, Carnival, Princess, Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania and MSC.

“At its peak, fresh fruit and vegetables supplies to cruise ships would amount to about 25 to 30 per cent of our business.

“Today with the onset of COVID-19 and with no cruise ships visiting Australia, it is down to zero,” says Steven Biviano, group general manager.

The company had to redeploy and stand down staff and the bigger premises built for the cruise business in both Sydney and Brisbane remain under-utilised.

Select Fresh Providores is one of 10 businesses, food wholesalers, beverage providers and transport companies behind Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia’s initiative to support plans for the resumption of cruise operations in Australia.

Mr Biviano said that the newly created Cruise Suppliers Advisory Group hopes to create awareness about the ramifications of the stoppage of cruise operations. Down the line affected businesses include meat suppliers, farmers, food wholesalers, fruit and vegetables providores, logistics and infrastructure companies which have traditionally provided goods and services to the cruise industry.

These businesses are among thousands of Australian companies which have been impacted by the suspension of the $5 billion-a-year cruise economy and put some 18,000 jobs at risk, said CLIA.

“There is a lot of uncertainty about when cruise will restart in Australia. What form it will take and the numbers allowed on board are still unclear. There are also issues over state borders reopening and when airlines would be able to fly again.

“We are hoping for cruise to resume early next year but we need certainty so that we can plan ahead,” said Mr Biviano.

Select Fresh Providores is a family-run company started by Dominic Barba eight years ago. It is one of the biggest fruit and vegetable providores in the country with over 40 trucks and a turnover of $80 million a year. The company provides fruit and vegetable platters, tailor-made to clients’ orders and specifications. The produce is then cut, washed and ready-to-go. The company supplies major hotels, restaurants, pubs, bars, airlines and cruise ships.