If you think you and your family prepared and ate exorbitant amounts of food over the last few days, not to mention the last twelve months, it’s actually quite minuscule compared to the grocery bill of one of Australia’s biggest cruise lines – P&O Cruises.

It may not even be something you think too closely about, but while each ship is in port at the beginning and end of each cruise, dock workers below the gangways are busily unloading rubbish from the previous cruise and refilling the ship with the freshest produce, perishables, other stock and ingredients for the onboard chefs to create their culinary masterpieces. And the sheer quantity of what is being loaded into the ship’s freezers is quite staggering.

The Australian-grown brand recently opened up its cupboard and freezer, showing off its order book and just what it took over the last year to keep nearly half a million passengers fed and watered during their holidays. It makes for interesting reading, particularly as the demand was 30% higher since the line introduced two new ships into its fleet in November 2015.

Cruise lines in general pump around $4.6 billion each year into the businesses of Australian farmers, growers and wholesalers as they source virtually everything each ship needs for the next week or more away from home, contributing to the upkeep of some 19,000 jobs.

With 12,000 mouths (passengers and crew) to feed each day, P&O Cruises has over the last year purchased:

  • 92,200 kilograms of Australian lamb – a strong favourite consumed year-round.
  • 509,500 kilograms of beef.
  • 455,000 kilos of pork.
  • Nearly 898,000 kilograms of chicken and poultry.
  • 401,700 kilograms of smallgoods such as sausages, bacon and other cooked meat items.
  • 4,750,000 kilograms of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • 520,000 dozen (or 6,240,000 individual) fresh eggs.
  • 1,420,000 litres of various dairy products. Broken down, this works out at 410,000 litres of milk, 125,000 kilograms of cheese, 665,000 litres of yoghurt and cream and 220,000 litres of ice-cream, making for a big dairy purchase.

And this is just from one cruise line. Multiply this by different amounts to factor in Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line and the vast array of ships visiting to top up their own stocks and you can see how important the supply chain is to an enjoyable cruise and how important cruising is to the local economy.

Now all of those Christmas leftovers don’t really seem like so much, do they?