Strawberry growers in South Australia fear impact of sewing needle crisis

Posted September 16, 2018 09:29:56

Photo: Strawberry grower Brenton Sherry, with his grandson, fears the strawberry crisis will impact his imminent harvest (ABC News)

In the lush strawberry fields of South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, the fruit looks ready to ripen, and growers are gearing up for another picking season.

Key points: South Australian strawberry growers are weeks away from harvest Shoppers are spooked and wholesale prices are now just 33 cents a punnet Growers lose money once prices drop below $2 a punnet

But events interstate have cast an unwanted shadow as the sewing needle contamination crisis causes punnet prices to plummet.

“I’ve talked to the agents in Queensland — they’re telling me that 90 per cent of production there has been either thrown in the bin or not picked,” said Brenton Sherry, who runs production business Kuitpo Strawberries near Mount Compass.

“Only 10 per cent will be saleable because the consumer’s lost confidence.”

Traditionally, strawberry production in South Australia has picked up in spring, at the end of the Queensland season. During this time, Mr Sherry’s business usually exports to Brisbane, Sydney and Perth.