Ever wondered what a single day looks like for a fruit packer? Today’s blog uncovers a typical day within a fruit packing job. So, if you want to experience the unique work of a picker or packer but want more insight into what might lie ahead, continue reading to find out how a Goulburn fruit packer’s day is filled.
Our Fruit Packer, Kelly
Kelly, our interviewee, is one of the younger fruit packers working in the Goulburn Valley area or fruit bowl of Victoria. She works with pears and stone fruits, sorting out produce depending on its quality and visual appearance. She’s been a fruit packer for a month and is really enjoying the connections and culture of her worksite. She primarily works to sort fruit into farmers market and commercial shipments.
1-How Did You Get into This Line of Work? What Drew You to Become a Pick and Packer?
Answer: I grew up in Shepp and I’ve been around farming culture since my school years. I know packing is a great way to get a substantial amount of money in a short amount of time. Personally, I called around and asked about available positions. I know you can go through other avenues, but I preferred to call around myself.
2-What Do Your Typical Work Hours Look Like?
Answer: That depends. I typically work from 7am to 3:30pm, but on slow days it can go until 5pm (with lots of breaks in between). I usually work with Corella pears which take longer to pack as they are the most fragile and require extra time to ensure no damage happens to them throughout this packing process.
3-Do You Find You Have a Good Work-Life Balance?
Answer: Of course! There are some days when work makes you feel super tired. But as long as the day goes as planned, I find that I still have time to study and socialise. I also only work weekdays which definitely helps.
4-What’s It Like Working in a Packing Shed?
Answer: There’s a massive shed on our farm, with good lighting and lots of things going on. Working in the shed, you might not see the sun for long hours, which is good in the summer. There’s a lot of white noise from the surrounding machines and forklifts. There are also tight walking rules because of the forklifts moving around everywhere.
You work across from another packer, so you have someone to talk to throughout the day.
5-What Do Your Typical Tasks Include?
Answer: Quality checking is my main task. It works in a few stages; picking out pears, checking them for rot or bruising and then separating them on this. Any bad fruit will be sent for juicing or to another line for double-checking.
I usually switch between first- and second-line packers. First-line packers are the ones who sort the fruit and pull out any bad pieces. Then second line packers work on sorting and quality checking for more minor marks before moving them into the bins.
We work by weight which means that you have to watch the different weighted boxes moving down the line. If you can’t keep up, it can ruin the fruit and the rest of the production line. There are also quality checkers at the end of the line who double-check everything and ensure quality standards are being met.
6-Can You Explain the Area you Work in and What it’s Like Living in a Country Town?
Answer: I’m based in Shepparton; the farm I work at is just on the outskirts, so it’s easy to get to. Shepparton is a bigger town. It has a really diverse culture with a big cafe/social culture. The cultural diversity means there are lots of great food choices in town. There are also heaps of hikes and nature activities to do on your weekends and a massive lake.
If you’re interested in taking on a fruit picking job this harvest season or want to learn more about the different harvest periods across the Goulburn Valley region, make sure to visit our website today.