10 May 2023

Air freight keeps Cape communities fed in wet season

| Cape York Weekly
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ALMOST half a million dollars was spent on charter flights to remote Cape York and Gulf communities to keep them fed during the wet season.

Community Enterprise Queensland said it had to charter planes to ensure the supply of food and essential freight to remote communities during the wet season.

The not-for-profit remote store operator usually delivers supplies to its supermarkets in Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw, and Doomadgee by road through its truck network.

Between November and April, CEQ spent almost $500,000 on 26 separate air charters to the three communities.

Those flights delivered 87,000 kilograms of produce.

CEQ chief executive officer Ian Copeland said the strategy was a win-win, with the use of planes to transport goods having zero effect on the price of goods for customers.

“We see it as our job during the wet season to go the extra mile to ensure essential goods are supplied to the remote Cape York communities we serve,” Mr Copeland said.

“Our warehouses were filled to capacity prior to the wet season arriving, and we delivered goods by truck as per normal until the wet weather stopped them getting through.

“Since then, we have been utilising planes in Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw and Doomadgee to get the necessary food supplies through to residents in these communities via air freight, at no extra cost at the cash register.”

Mr Copeland said most stores had received at least one delivery per week, with up to four tonnes supplied in one delivery.

“Freezer, chiller, and perishable items are all handled to food safety standards, with stock temperature checked upon departure and arrival,” he said.

“As needed, data loggers track the temperature of goods to ensure compliance and safety.

“Keeping our stores well stocked is particularly important during the wet season, as we’re also often called upon to supply water and essential items in these areas as part of the State’s disaster response efforts.

“These flights are necessary to ensure food security and the health of our communities.”

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