It’s been a rough couple of years for the WA strawberry industry, as in 2017 farmers selling to the eastern states were lumped with beefed up biosecurity protocols after an outbreak of the tomato potato psyllid. After that, in 2018, sales plummeted when vindictive persons put needles in the fruit, sparking a wave of copycat crimes. Now the humble WA strawberry faces its next challenge: the coronavirus pandemic.
With the shutdown of borders and collapse of air travel, WA currently has just one regular air flight capable of freight entering and exiting the state from overseas, a Qatar flight to Doha.
This meant more than $804 million in airborne exports were at risk and, along with other prized WA produce such as lamb, mushrooms and truffles, the strawberry industry was heading stem-first into a freight bottleneck unless new flights could be arranged.
About $19 million worth of strawberries were sent to markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong each year, making it the highest value fruit export in the state.