In recent times, the cost of some old Pokemon cards got raised to the price of a small wedding. Then, world events came for the sum of a lettuce. Now, according to the ABC, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries might be next on the price point chopping block. Which could spell bad news for parents if their children exclusively eat berries as a food group. Seriously, is nothing on this planet sacred?
But all melodramatic jokes aside, the current berry situation in NSW is bad for consumers and a lot worse for farmers. Here are the important details that you need to know:
What Are Varroa Mites? And Are They Bad News?
A blueberry grower said that they’ve discovered Varroa mites on the Mid North Coast near Coffs Harbour. This is bad news because Varroa mites are parasites that’ll attack the bees that pollinate the macadamias, the avocados, and each type of berry in this region. As per Bee Aware, Varroa mite infestations can cripple honey bees, hurt their flight performance, and lower their lifespan. This means these bees will pollinate less plants. While berries can grow without getting pollinated by bees, they’re typically of an unsellable quality.
Corindi Beach blueberry grower Aman Lehl said that they were worried about this situation and what it could mean for other farmers. He stated, “I really feel for growers in the red zone and the beekeepers, they are staring down the barrel of potentially having no bees on their farm for who knows how long.”
Will This Situation Impact the Price of Berries?
If this berry situation isn’t successfully sorted, the likes of NSW Apiarist Association’s President, Steve Fuller, believe it will also hurt Aussie consumers. “It means prices are going to go up in the supermarket,” he stated.
The Latch also reached out to both Coles and Woolworths about this potential disaster. We asked them if they’re monitoring the situation and know whether the price of their berries will be impacted by it. Coles told us that they’re monitoring this situation in a vigilant manner.
A spokesperson from Woolworths said, “We haven’t seen any impact to supply as a result of this issue to date.” They then went onto note, “We will continue to monitor the situation and remain in close contact with our growers, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and industry bodies.”
What’s Being Done to Help These Berry Farmers?
NSW Agriculture Minister, Dugald Saunders, declared that a command post would be established in this region. His team will continue to do surveillance work, and he wants to establish some pretty strict containment lines.
Saunders is also set on effectively resolving the Varroa mites issue but hasn’t made any promises. The minister instead stated, “At some point we will hopefully know enough about how we have contained things.”