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AU: Strawberry growers warned for overproduction

Australian growers at the Berry Quest conference in the Yarra Valley were told overproduction of strawberries could lead to a glut. Professor Adam Dale from Canada's University of Guelph told growers last week it was likely growers needed to look to other berries to remain viable. Prof Dale said overproduction in the US had been a problem for years, and could become a problem in Australia if growers did not explore and market other berries.

He also said global warming could push berry production out of Queensland, and even the Yarra Valley, and into the alpine regions.

"It will likely become too hot to produce berries around most of Australia, and many other parts of the world, and we will need to look at what varieties and growing areas will allow continued production," Prof Dale said.

"We may have to look at growing wild berries, which are hardier ... and could be bred for eating."

Stuart Burgess from HAL spoke about marketing, urging growers to consider their entire industry as their "branding department".

"We will never compete on price, it's just not our space," he said. "We need to focus on our produce as being a premium product.

"We need to do a lot more consolidated marketing. We are long way behind the rest of the world as far as that's concerned."

Professor David Hughes, from the Berry Gardens in the UK, spoke about global consumer trends.

"Combined marketing, such as marketing berries as something to have with yoghurt or chocolate, is a good way of increasing consumption," Mr Hughes said.

"Fresh berries are indulgent but affordable and we're very lucky they already have a sexy image."

Prof Hughes said strawberries were the most consumed berry, but blueberries were the most "snackable" as they weren't messy, had a good shelf life and were seen as a superfood.

"The industry needs to tap into this."

"They're not messy, you just pop them in your mouth, they have a good shelf life, and everyone sees them as a superfood," he said.


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