Staggering cost of strawberry saga
THE needle tampering crisis that shattered consumer confidence in strawberries last year wiped $12 million from the farm gate value of the fruit in Queensland, according to new figures.
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner revealed in an answer to a Question on Notice the estimated farm gate value of Queensland strawberries for 2018-19 had plunged 8 per cent to $146 million.
"These reductions are primarily due to the strawberry needle contamination issues in September 2018, which had an immediate and significant impact on consumption and prices," Mr Furner said.
The revised figure was 14 per cent lower than the average farm gate value of the state's strawberries over the past five years.
Consumer confidence plunged after sewing needles were discovered inside strawberries sold in major supermarkets in September last year.
As punnets were pulled from supermarket shelves across the country, heartbroken growers had to destroy tonnes of fruit just as they were preparing for a bumper spring crop.
A 50-year-old woman, My Ut Trinh but known as Judy, was charged in November with allegedly contaminating strawberries with needles.
Mr Furner said Queensland produced 42 per cent of the nation's strawberries.