Our strawberry secret revealed
QUALITY wins out for Pie Creek strawberry grower Rick Tramacchi.
Mr Tramacchi says his buyers are still glad to see his product, despite a market glut which has led to lower prices for many much larger Sunshine Coast growers.
"My Sydney agent says he hides my strawberries back for people who come in and ask for them specifically," he said yesterday.
And that does not count the gourmet market he finds right here in Gympie.
One important outlet is Southside's Farmer and Sun store, where he says customers give his product a good reception.
Mr Tramacchi says he is not so badly affected by the big market glut because his smaller operation relies on loyal customers and a product he is proud of.
"The big stores are selling punnets for $1.50 and they may pay more than that for them.
"They schedule that sort of price in advance.
"I've got about 34,000 plants and that's relatively small.
"A big grower on the Sunshine Coast may grow one or two million plants.
"Some form co-operatives that grow and control many millions of plants.
"The cold weather has reduced our yields, so we're not having to harvest so many at lower prices.
"I've been very pleased with the quality this year," he said.
His Californian-bred plant material is purchased from a Victorian wholesaler.
"The University of California has huge stocks of plants they cross-breed and select from.
"It takes a lot of time but I think people are prepared to pay a good price for a good product," he said.
"The Agriculture Department is working on new Queensland varieties and they are doing a good job, too.
"Cooloola Berries use a lot of Queensland-bred plants," he said.
"I've tried three new varieties this year,
"I'm quite pleased with the flavour and quality," he said.