THE marketing manager at a berry farm near Orange fears that the repeated coverage of the strawberry contamination crisis will give ideas to those who want to do the same with other farm products.
“Media needs to back-off from the issue,” Gianni Belmonte from Huntley Berry Farm said.
“The drug addicts, juveniles or unscrupulous elements get a kick out of such acts. They will get ideas from this repeated media coverage. Today it is with strawberries, tomorrow it will be something else.”
Huntley Berry Farm, an OCTEC-owned and operated Australian disability enterprise, is the only strawberry grower in the Central West.
OCTEC Limited is an organisation which provides vocational education and training, disability and employment services across NSW, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria.
Mr Belmonte said he was unsure about the likely impact on the sales of strawberries, which would be ready for picking in October.
“The demand and supply would determine the price of the product,” he said.
The farm is expecting about four to five tonnes of strawberry production this season.
It usually sells these strawberries for $1 a punnet.
The farm sold six tonnes of strawberries last year and most of the sales were through check-ins.
“The average cost to produce a tonne of strawberry is around $3000 and it sells for around $8000 during a good season. It can cause losses in a poor season,” Mr Belmonte said, adding that strawberry farming was difficult mainly because of weather and drought.
A health warning was issued after sewing needles were found in strawberries across all six states in the last fortnight.
According to media reports, NSW police on Tuesday launched an investigation into a suspected case of apple contamination after a woman found a needle in an apple she bought from a leading supermarket at The Ponds in Sydney’s north west.