Strawberry farmers voice gratitude amid turmoil

Saskia AdystiAlbany Advertiser
VideoWATCH: PM Scott Morrison says strawberry saboteurs could face 10 years in jail under new laws.

Albany strawberry growers continue to receive support from local buyers, despite a needle being found in a punnet of Perth’s strawberries sold at Chester Pass Mall.

A photo circulating on social media on Wednesday morning claimed to show a needle stuck inside a strawberry purchased at an Albany shopping centre.

Police confirmed to the Albany Advertiser preliminary investigations were under way, and it follows more than five incidents in Perth and numerous across Australia in the past 10 days.

Meanwhile, Albany Handasyde Strawberry Farm owner Lyn Handasyde said she couldn’t be more grateful after all the support she had received.

“People in Albany has been fantastic, they’ve been totally amazing,” she said.

“We actually sold out our berries already this morning, but we will get more back in later today.”

However, with the number of reports of needles in strawberries in WA up to 10, Ms Handasyde said the shop was copping some loss from the incident. “We’re selling our first-grade fruit with second- grade prices just so we don’t have to dump them,” she said.

Her husband Neil Handasyde, who is also president of the Strawberry Growers Association of Western Australia, said even though the farm is not struggling financially, he’s unsure what the future might bring.

“We’re lucky at the moment, but we’re not sure if the buyers’ confidence is going to pick up anytime soon, even with metal detectors,” he said.

“Australia has lost its export market in strawberries right now because of this. We do grow some of the best fruit and veg in the world and it is now being jeopardised by some silly buggers.”

The Advertiser understands that most contaminated strawberries have been found in punnets sold from a major retail chain store.

Mr Handasyde would like to remind shoppers to continue to support their local strawberry farmers.

“It’s been humbling to see the amount of local support shown so far,” he said.

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