Strawberry shortage looms for Christmas pavlovas as growers lose over half of crop

If you haven't bought the strawberries for the Christmas pavlova yet you might not want to wait too much longer.

Growers are reporting they've lost more than half their berries after being hit by devastating weather.

And that will push up prices at the till.

Anthony Rakich works on his crop of strawberries all year round. The biggest moment for his ruby reds comes when they hit the nation's pavlovas on Christmas Day.

"This is the week we really wanted as much fruit as we could get," he says.

It wasn't to be. Instead of red, it's rot.

Crushingly humid weather made the fruits vulnerable to disease. Then came the rain.

"That brought in disease - disease was there from the humidity and we started getting rotting fruit. As you can see there's still some rotten fruit there," he says.

The plants were stripped of rotten strawberries on Monday with Rakich picking off yet more bad fruit on Tuesday - all gone to waste. His crop is down 50 to 60 percent this week.

"Where we picked today, it was pretty depressing. It's no fun picking rotten fruit."

Other growers have been hit even worse. That will mean prices are hiked in greengrocers and fruit shops, and perhaps punnet panic purchasing.

"When we're talking about only 30 to 40 percent only coming out of the ground at the moment, we're gonna be short, there's no question about it," United Fresh president Jerry Prendergast says.

It hasn't been a great 2021 for strawberries - combined with endless rain in October the entire year was a write-off. But there's good news.

More strawberries will ripen in the next week or so, it's just unfortunate timing that the damaged crop was bang on Christmas.

In the meantime there are other fruits you can deck that pav with.

"Summer fruit has absolutely peaked! nectarines, eating-wise, are magnificent," Prendergast says.

Cherries, blueberries, raspberries and grapes are all abundant and in season too.

And come New Years, the strawberries will be back in all their sweet juicy glory.  

Sign up to receive news updates

By entering your email address, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Newshub and its affiliates may use your email address to provide updates/news, ads, and offers. To withdraw your consent or learn more about your rights, see the Privacy Policy.