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Home / Business / Queensland’s strawberry industry takes financial hit after needles crisis

Queensland’s strawberry industry takes financial hit after needles crisis



"Strawberry sabotage in mid-September 2018 has reduced demand for strawberries considerably, with supermarkets picking strawberries off the shelves," said the AgTrends report

. "This has had an immediate and significant impact on consumption and prices ".

However, the coming season seems more positive for strawberry lovers, with production and prices expected to return to normal levels from the new Queensland season in May 2019.

"The rebound in demand is supported by a & High solidarity from consumers, measures to improve standards and training throughout the supply chain and the installation of metal detectors in warehouses, "reads the report.

Despite the impact of tampering, the growth season was good, with record yields and lower prices, according to the AgTrends report.

A large part of Queensland's strawberry production comes from Dayboro, Beerwah, Wamuran, Elimbah and Caboolture.

The co-owner of Ashbern Farms on Hoyle said that the end of last year marked a "rather terrifying moment" for the strawberry industry.

"When people are nervous and do not buy strawberries, they have a huge effect on us because the life of strawberries is very short – it's not like you can keep them in a cold room until things go well", he said.

"Every day we had no market we had to start killing the harvest."

Mr Hoyle said that an influx of strawberries from the southern states in recent months has pushed prices towards consumers.

He said it was too early to determine what the strawberry winter season would bring, but greater demand from the Queenslanders helped.

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"The market is back and it was promising, it concluded with a good note, but the damage was done for the season", said Mr. Hoyle.

"Time will tell when the harvest will come back to what kind of season it will be."

Agriculture Development Minister Mark Furner said it was great to see Queensland's strawberry growers react .

"The Palaszczuk government has pledged $ 1 million to help fight, including support for key promotions to make sure the winter season will be a great success," he said.

"The Queenslanders have shown incredible support by continuing to eat Queensland strawberries and I'm sure they will continue to do so."

The crisis prompted Prime Minister Scott Morrison to announce a law to extend the prison to anyone convicted of tampering with food at the age of 15.

Police handled more than 230 reports of fruit sabotage throughout Australia, through 68 brands, with many reports of scripts and hoaxes.

Felicity Caldwell is a state political journalist at the Brisbane Times

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