A NORTH East strawberry grower expects the demand for his fruit will grow following needles being found in punnets.
Beechworth Berries owner Bob Dunnett was responding to news that police are investigating after needles were found in strawberries that were sold in Woolworths supermarkets in Victoria and Queensland.
“It’s just amazing, it’s really sad,” Mr Dunnett said.
Every weekend, Mr Dunnett sells his Wooragee-grown berries at the Albury-Wodonga Farmers’ Market and he expects extra sales at Hovell Tree Park on Saturday.
“I would have thought so for me personally,” he said.
“We’re really a niche local grower so it’s not going to hurt us because they’re from supermarkets and we don’t sell to supermarkets.”
Mr Dunnett sells his punnets for $3.50 year-round, while supermarket prices can range from a $1 to $5 across the calendar.
He said 70 per cent of his market sales were to regulars, with the strawberries being sold on Saturday picked tomorrow.
Another North East grower Allans Flat Strawberries partner Michael Schmidt declined to comment on the impact of the needles contamination.
He supplies various supermarkets, including Woolworths stores in Albury, Lavington and Thurgoona.
Asked if he expected to supply more strawberries to The Fresh Food People, Mr Schmidt replied “that would be something you would have to contact Woolworths about”.
Woolworths said it was unlikely extra North East berries would be sought.
“We expect demand for the locally grown strawberries will remain stable in the region,” a spokesman said.
Authorities are continuing to probe how the Berry Licious and Berry Obsession strawberries from Queensland had the needles added.
Queensland chief health officer Jeanette Young is urging anyone buying strawberries to cut them up before eating.
A suspected copycat case emerged on Thursday in the Queensland town of Gatton.
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