More than half of the Queensland government’s million-dollar rescue package to the strawberry industry following the needle crisis will be spent on an advertising campaign.
The state government has allocated $1 million towards responding to the crisis, and on Wednesday revealed $600,000 of that money would be spent on a targeted campaign while $250,000 has been allocated for safeguarding supply chain integrity.
Meanwhile $150,000 will be given to the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association and Growcom to allocate to producers affected by the crisis.
The government did not say how the campaign would be targeted but Agriculture Minister Mark Furner pointed to previous issues affecting the prawn industry.
“When White Spot Disease hit our prawn industry, the government invested in a highly successful media campaign to get people eating seafood again with Brisbane Broncos legend Sam Thaiday,” Mr Furner said.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander was disappointed more money wasn’t being made available directly to strawberry farmers.
“I think there needs to be some sort of investment towards promoting the industry, there’s no doubt about that,” Mr Mander said.
“But I think also that funding should be available directly to these farmers whose lives have been devastated and have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Growcom and the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association both welcomed the funding, saying it would assist growers with ongoing recovery.
The discovery of needles in the fruit a fortnight ago prompted supermarkets to dump tonnes of strawberries, however a well-publicised push for consumers to “cut them up, not cut them out” has led to a resurgence of sales.
Both Mr Furner and Mr Mander attended a special event in Brisbane’s King George Square on Wednesday, where the Ekka strawberry sundaes were being sold for the first time outside the annual show to support the industry.
Organisers easily met their goal of selling 10,000 sundaes early Wednesday afternoon after a massive swell of community support, with all proceeds to go to strawberry farmers.
Police are still investigating the strawberry spikings in multiple stores and locations but say there have been no further reports of needles in strawberries in Queensland since last week .