Bundaberg Region strawberry growers are among those serving up “strawesome” treats as the winter strawberry season was officially launched today.
Back in March, SSS Strawberries chief financial officer Toan Nguyen said his family-run business was anticipating a bumper crop of 2.7 million plants this year.
“That's an expected harvest of around 2000 tonnes of strawberries,” he said.
SSS Strawberries is run by the second generation of the Dang family's sons and daughters: Victor, Tam, Toan, Gina, Trini and Rena.
The business on Rosedale Road employs more than 300 casual staff each year and picking began in May.
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said Queensland’s contribution to winter production was significant, with locally grown strawberries renowned for their size, colour and juicy flavour.
“Queensland strawberry growers produce up to 30,000 tonnes or up to 60 million punnets of fruit per season, which is about 40 per cent of Australia’s annual strawberry production,” Mr Furner said.
“These sweet and nutritious strawberries can be used in winter warmers such as crumbles, a strawberry version of banana bread and on pancakes with syrup; traditional favourites like strawberries and cream, in smoothies or even as a tasty addition to salsas.”
Mr Furner said Queensland strawberries made an important contribution to the state’s economy and the launch of the winter season was the perfect reminder for families to add strawberries to the weekly shopping list now.
“Research shows that strawberries are bought more frequently than any other fruit except apples and bananas,” he said.
“Already 800,000 punnets of strawberries leave Queensland farms each week on average, but if just five per cent of families bought just two more punnets of strawberries from now until the end of September, an extra 6.3 million punnets of strawberries would be sold.
“This simple, practical support would be a welcome boost for Queensland’s almost 100 strawberry growers who employ more than 8000 people on a seasonal basis.”
President of the Queensland Strawberry Growers’ Association and a proud strawberry farmer, Luigi Coco, said he was optimistic about the availability and quality of the fresh strawberries to come this season.
“After a difficult start with drought-affected strawberry nursery plants, the current warm sunny days are helping the young plants to get established and start to produce their wonderful balls of winter sunshine,” Mr Coco said.
“The late start to the season has meant that strawberries have been slightly scarce for the last few weeks.
“But, as our growers start to pick their first harvests, I urge Queenslanders to get out and start to buy strawberries now as some of the freshest, juiciest berries can be had in June and July.”
Mr Furner said the launch of the winter strawberry winter season built on the State Government’s support for strawberry growers.
“Since September 2018, the Government has partnered with the Queensland Strawberry Growers’ Association and provided $1 million in funding to boost the strawberry industry and help farmers,” Mr Furner said.
“We will continue to support our strawberry producers through the #eatqld campaign and at events such as those planned for July and August this year.
“The Government is committed to protecting and growing the Queensland strawberry industry’s worldwide reputation for safe and delicious berries.
“When you buy Queensland strawberries and support Queensland farmers, you are directly supporting more Queensland jobs – more jobs in a stronger Queensland economy.”