Poor strawberry season may lead to surge in sales fraud

Strawberries. Source: Pixabay

A combination of low rainfall and colder nights has meant Estonia's strawberry haul this year may be lower than usual, even as the season started early. Another issue is the risk of fraudulent sales of strawberries grown elsewhere but passed off as Estonian produce.

In cases of doubt, it is worth asking the seller which farm their produce comes from; sellers are by law required to provide proof of delivery upon request.

While there has been a daytime heatwave in Estonia which means strawberry season is now here, colder temperatures at night may spell smaller yields, and therefore higher prices.

This in turn can encourage fraud – for instance transporting strawberries, from other parts of Europe, at night time and by road.

In any event, earlier varieties have been filling the market shelves for a few days already now, AK reported.

Strawberry seller Toomas said: "Look at this weather we're having now – 30 degrees. Strawberries are arriving in droves. Where are we going to put them all?" 

Strawberry grower Kadri Nebokat told AK that the price per kilo of strawberries, currently at the €7-€8 mark, will not dip below €5 this year, "because while it's very hot, the current weather forecasts show that the season may be short. The season certainly started very early. I honestly don't remember a full harvest so early on in the season /.../ Right now I'm expecting that due to the drought, the season may be short, however, and the harvest potential is not very high this year."

Cold nights in May and early June claimed up to 90 percent of crops in Northern and Central Estonia, AK reported.

Helen Kaskema, who manages a market garden at Unipiha, Tartu County, where the full harvest is set to start in a few days, said this year's crop is likely to be about a third smaller than last year's.

She also warned of the folly of searching for bargain prices – if strawberries are on sale at cheap prices they are likely either defective or may be being sold as Estonian strawberries fraudulently, Kaskema said.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera, reporter Ode Maria Punamäe.

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