A Bay of Plenty strawberry grower hopes locals will continue to support local suppliers after needles were found in a punnet of strawberries imported from Australia.

Countdown said, in a statement, needles were found in a punnet of strawberries sourced from Western Australia, which was bought in a Countdown supermarket in Auckland.

The Choice brand of strawberries was sold nationwide last week.

Any remaining Choice strawberries have since been withdrawn from sale from Countdown, SuperValue and FreshChoice supermarkets.


Ben Rosewarne from Blueberry Corner, between Tauranga and Whakatane, said although the main strawberry season had not yet begun, the confirmation of a New Zealand needle incident in Auckland had him wary.

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"I'm a little bit worried. I think the locals will support us. It appears to be attacking the supermarkets for some reason. Then there are the copycats using other fruit."

Strawberry Growers New Zealand executive manager Michael Ahern said while the industry had a "heightened awareness of the issues, there was absolutely no reason to think New Zealand strawberries will be targeted".

The structure of the New Zealand strawberry industry is based around family farms and hands-on owner-operators. Some of these operations go back more than two generations and have strong local connections.

"The biggest issue reported by strawberry growers right now is supply. We just need a bit more sunshine, daylight and warmth, and we will be under way to providing that traditionally positive feeling associated with New Zealand strawberries that summer and Christmas must be coming.

"If people are genuinely worried, our advice is that they should cut the strawberries before eating, to provide absolute confidence."