Tomato poisoning leads to price hikes

For fresh produce marketing in Australia and New Zealand
Fruitnet.com Staff

BY FRUITNET.COM STAFF

Tomato poisoning leads to price hikes

Tomato prices are expected to rise in both Australia and New Zealand after a suspected poisoning in North Queensland

Tomato poisoning leads to price hikes

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Tomato prices in both Australia and New Zealand are expected to increase after more than 5m plants were poisoned at properties in the northern Australian state of Queensland, in what police are describing as an act of sabotage.

The ABC has reported that a herbicide appears to have been injected into the irrigation system at Bowen, the third time crops in the region have been poisoned.

However, the Queensland Health Department said a batch of tomatoes from a property at the centre of the investigation is safe for consumption, while testing of other batches will continue.

Mayor of the Whitsunday Islands in northern Queensland Mike Brunker said the incident could cost the local economy A$50m (US$42.49).

"Personally I think that could be a conservative figure," Mr Brunker said.

"No-one's actually sat down and worked that out yet because we're all obviously focused on trying to help the police to get a resolution to this case.

"This time of year in winter, we supply about 80 per cent of Australia's tomatoes.

"We've got farmers that can't get enough seedlings to replant - that means prices will go up, so people will be paying higher for tomatoes."

Meanwhile, Radio New Zealand has reported the price increases are also expected to be felt across the Tasman, as Queensland is the source for most of New Zealand's winter tomato imports.

Horticulture New Zealand's fresh tomato chairman Wim Zwart said floods had already affected a number of Australian growing operations earlier in the year, meaning prices were already inflated, and this latest crisis wouldn't help matters.

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