Get­ting be­hind farm­ers

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS - By Alana Chris­tensen

Straw­berry pro­duc­ers strug­gling to sell pro­duce in the wake of a num­ber of con­tam­i­na­tion scares are re­ceiv­ing a help­ing hand from a Shep­par­ton green­gro­cer.

Ryan’s Fruit and Veg owner Ryan Cur­tis, who has bought straw­ber­ries at cost from his sup­plier, has pledged to re­turn all funds from the sale of 99¢ pun­nets at the High St busi­ness back to his sup­plier as they deal with the fall­out from the dis­cov­ery of pins and nee­dles in a num­ber of straw­ber­ries across the coun­try.

‘‘No-one was buy­ing the straw­ber­ries at mar­ket and our sup­plier has been se­verely af­fected,’’ Mr Cur­tis said.

‘‘There was al­ready an over­sup­ply so they were get­ting low prices and then this hap­pened.’’

Af­ter hear­ing of the strug­gle of sup­pli­ers, Mr Cur­tis said he was more than happy to lend a hand.

‘‘We’ll try and re­turn what­ever we can,’’ he said.

‘‘Even if it’s just a few thou­sand, hope­fully it makes a dif­fer­ence.’’

He en­cour­aged con­sumers to con­tinue to buy straw­ber­ries and sup­port lo­cal grow­ers.

The scare, which has seen a num­ber of brands pulled from the shelves, has left many con­sumers cau­tious about pur­chas­ing the fruit and seen many prices slashed across the coun­try.

The sit­u­a­tion has led to some pro­duc­ers in­vest­ing in metal de­tec­tors to try and en­sure their pro­duce can be sold.

Queens­land Glass House Moun­tains farmer Leonard Smith said the safety mea­sure would cost him about $30 000, but would hope­fully get the rest of this sea­son’s fruit back on su­per­mar­ket shelves.

How­ever, he said there was no guar­an­tee it would work if the con­tam­i­na­tion was oc­cur­ring off­site.

Mr Smith’s farm was forced to burn off 500 000 un­sellable plants on the week­end be­cause it was cheaper to kill them than pick them.

South Aus­tralian pro­duc­ers are sourc­ing X-ray ma­chines to check fruit there, while other grow­ers have had to cut back on staff while the im­pact of the na­tion­wide con­tam­i­na­tion deep­ens.

Sewing nee­dles have been found in straw­ber­ries in all six states, with New Zealand an­nounc­ing last week it would pull the Aus­tralian-grown fruit from its su­per­mar­ket shelves.

Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son last Wed­nes­day an­nounced ur­gent and harsh new com­mon­wealth crim­i­nal penal­ties for con­tam­i­nat­ing food.

NSW Premier Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian has promised to stand shoul­der to shoul­der with farm­ers.

‘‘This is a dis­gust­ing act de­signed to in­stil fear in con­sumers and to un­der­mine our agri­cul­tural in­dus­try,’’ she told par­lia­ment.

A health warn­ing to throw out or cut up straw­ber­ries re­mains in Vic­to­ria, NSW, Queens­land and South Aus­tralia.

Po­lice are con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate the sit­u­a­tion, with straw­ber­ries from Berry Ob­ses­sion, Berry Li­cious and Don­ny­brook Ber­ries re­called na­tion­wide.

Berry spe­cial deal . . . Ryan’s Fruit and Veg’s Ail­ish Fer­gu­son and Harsh Singh get be­hind the Shep­par­ton store’s pro­mo­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.