Papaya grower Skybury Farms and JetBest Group launch Papaya Week to increase awareness of tropical fruit

Candy MacLaughlin of Skybury Farms with a papaya

Candy MacLaughlin of Skybury Farms with a papaya

Locally grown Australian papaya will be given a boost in September when Mareeba papaya grower Skybury Farms, in conjunction with JetBest Group, launches Papaya Week.

Skybury general manager Candy MacLaughlin said the week of celebration aims to introduce restaurants, cafés and the public more broadly to the benefits inherent in the widely grown and marketed red papaya.

“Our idea is to do a pilot program locally here in Tropical North Queensland and partner with local restaurants, so we are able to show chefs and diners how delicious and versatile this local crop really is,” said MacLaughlin.

With nearly all red papaya eaten in Australia grown within 500km of Cairns, the industry is a major employer supplying around 5,000 tonnes each year to meet intrastate and interstate demand and contributing approximately A$20m per annum to the economy.

“Our papaya fields at Paddy’s Green near Mareeba are part of a patchwork of neighbouring growers’ farms,” explained MacLaughlin.

“As well as Skybury, there are several other major papaya growers in Far North Queensland who grow and pick red papaya for 52 weeks a year. As an industry, papaya would employ thousands of people directly and hundreds more indirectly in transport, logistics, storage and retailing.”

Papaya Week will run from 11-17 September 2023, with restaurant partners Ochre Restaurant, Guyala Café, Caffiend and Skybury’s own café set to embrace the fruit in specially created papaya dishes on their menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“One of the interesting aspects of papaya – apart from it being a delicious and nutritious superfood – is that it is incredibly versatile. You can use it in a papaya boat for breakfast, in bruschetta for lunch, and in savoury curries for dinner. And anytime is papaya smoothie time!” said MacLaughlin.

Brisbane-based fresh fruit wholesaler Jetbest Group has been marketing papaya from Far North Queensland farmers for several years. Chief executive Stephen Barnes said the Papaya Week was an excellent initiative, adding nothing evokes the tropics quite like luscious red papaya.

“With their sweet flavour and refreshing texture, papayas are a luxurious but affordable everyday tropical treat. Our marketing program positions red papaya as a quality consumer product available 52 weeks a year, which is extremely important to restaurants and the public alike,” said Barnes.