Someone has been sabotaging strawberry production in Australia, slipping needles into the fresh fruit and scaring off consumers. It's almost like food terrorism, with the fearful reactions it has aroused. Strawberry farmers have been devastated by the lack of demand, and have been dumping tons of unwanted fruit.
There's an opportunity here to capitalise on the issue to amplify your sales and reputation - public relations people call this newsjacking.
Promote your willingness to use the fruit in much greater quantities - people know that producers are hurting, and want to support them. And strawberries have a delicious, photogenic quality that makes them ideal for social media and menu imagination - shiny, red and juicy.
There are plenty of extra ways to use strawberries - talk to your cooks and the bar:
- Fresh strawberry smoothies
- Strawberry daiquiris and cocktails
- Strawberry salsa and salad garnishes - yes, savoury
- Make your own strawberry jam
- Smother cheesecakes and tarts with strawberries (and don't forget to lightly coat with shiny flan gel to keep them looking fresh)
- Famous Aussie pavlovas covered with strawberries
Tell people what you're doing, and why. Promote it on social media, and there could even be a local media angle if you're quick, like this cafe in Perth discovered. It should not look like an attempt to exploit the hardship of others - tread lightly, be genuine, and move quickly.
And let's hope our strawberry farmers don't use this as another excuse to keep fumigating their plants with an environmentally damaging pesticide that's been banned around the world. We love our strawberries, but like so much food, there's a factory-farming side to it that's not so attractive.