"Iceland: "Strawberries rot in greenhouses as imports flood market "

Icelandic strawberry growers say they are facing a crisis as cheap foreign exports have flooded the market. Some local growers have stopped picking berries this summer, as the produce cannot be sold at a price which covers the cost of harvesting and getting them to the market. The arrival of retailing giant Costco has been identified as a main culprit.

One of the largest strawberry growers in South Iceland, Eiríkur Ágústsson, who operates the greenhouse farm Silfurtún in the village of Flúðir in South Iceland, told the local news site Vísir that he had seen a major drop in demand after the arrival of Costco.

Eiríkur told Vísir that the impact of Costco was compounded by the fact that the warehouse retailer, which does not carry any fresh Icelandic produce, had opened its store at the peak harvest season for produce grown in Icelandic greenhouses. He added that he and other producers had already dropped their prices significantly, and that if he dropped them any further he would not be able to cover costs. At the present prices were too low to justify picking the berries.

Eiríkur said that growers were already saddled with huge unsold inventories of berries which were going bad as consumers were choosing cheaper imported berries, adding that seeing the berries beginning to rot at his greenhouse was tremendously sad. Rather than have any more of the produce spoil he opened his greenhouses to the public over the past weekend, inviting people to pick the berries free of charge. As many as 600 people took advantage of the opportunity.

Read more at Iceland Magazine

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