The rise of the cucumber

23/06

The rise of the cucumber

After the strong increase in acreage seen in 2015 and 2016, the cultivated area for cucumbers has remained stable at around 220 ha in 2017. By comparison, in 2000 the cultivated area at the then Mechelen auctions was 55 ha, which at the time yielded some 40 million cucumbers per year.

           

 

Evolution of cucumber acreage/number of companies

 

Evolution in number of cucumbers

 

 

Year

area

cultivated area

no.

of companies

      Year

 Number

Mpr

 

 

2000

41

55

 

 

2000

40,859,202

0.354

 

2001

45

61

 

 

2001

41,326,748

0.284

 

2002

47

74

65

 

2002

38,487,730

0.253

 

2003

40

65

55

 

2003

39,318,268

0.309

 

2004

35

64

51

 

2004

50,686,932

0.271

 

2005

49

96

54

 

2005

51,206,216

0.3

 

2006

47

95

50

 

2006

56,041,518

0.284

 

2007

53

106

57

 

2007

56,446,228

0.271

 

2008

44

89

50

 

2008

54,011,062

0.252

 

2009

38

79

41

 

2009

49,778,724

0.236

 

2010

55

120

41

 

2010

72,205,565

0.309

 

2011

65

154

41

 

2011

91,029,032

0.205

 

2012

58

136

38

 

2012

105,078,925

0.257

 

2013

62

151

38

 

2013

86,044,281

0.292

 

2014

65

150

37

 

2014

88,375,147

0.239

 

2015

85

197

40

 

2015

124,252,757

0.326

 

2016

103

228

50

 

2016

137,930,829

0.31

 

2017

100

221

50

 

 

 

 

 

                             

 

In order to market the increased production in an efficient, results-driven way, BelOrta is trying to create a sales mix that uses a variety of sales systems. The emphasis is on advance sales activity.

 

Advance sales. The majority of cucumbers are traded in the short term advance sales market: batches of cucumbers are sold on day X for delivery on day X+2. The buyer can choose how they are packaged. Because the cucumber is delivered ready-packed by the producer, extra repacking costs and potential repacking damage are avoided. In 2016, we traded cucumbers in more than 20 different kinds of packaging in this way.

This sales method is only possible because our cucumber growers are able to estimate their production with great accuracy, and because they are extremely flexible.

 

Open boxes. In recent years, in agreement with the trade, standard cucumber boxes (40x30 and 60x40) have evolved from a base and lid box to an open box. This enhances the quality and shelf life of the product.

 

Sorting. Cucumbers are sold per unit and sorted by unit weight: +750g, +600g, +500g, +400g, +350g, +300g and +250g. Cucumbers with a unit weight of 400g are the most common commercial size.

 

Export. Thanks to the great increase in acreage, cucumbers are now in second place in BelOrta’s vegetable top ten. Of course, the large volumes are not only destined for the Belgian market. Through the various different sales systems, the cucumbers are also exported to a number of other European countries, such as the Netherlands, Germany and France.

 

Specialities. As well as the traditional cucumber, our producers also grow specialist cucumbers such as donna mini, donna midi, cocktail and snack cucumbers.

 

Over the past few years, the BelOrta ‘organic cucumber’ has seen spectacular growth: from 68,000 units traded in 2014, to 517,000 units in 2016. Having focused on the Belgian retail market for years, we have also been working on exporting organic cucumbers since last year. 

 

 

What about industrial cucumbers?

The trade in industrial cucumbers has also evolved over the years. Thanks to improved quality, this category of cucumber has also regained its place in the fresh market. In the past, the majority of industrial cucumbers were sold to the processing factories on contract. In recent years, they have largely been offered per kg via clock sales. This has resulted in a clear upgrading.

Industrial cucumbers are sorted in three weight categories: +100g, +250g and +300g.    

 

Industrial cucumbers supplied per year

(in kg)

 

Year

Kg

Year

Kg

 

2000

18,12,488

2009

1,118,592

 

2001

1,877,920

2010

1,834,856

 

2002

1,650,416

2011

3,265,584

 

2003

1,436,544

2012

2,564,606

 

2004

1,470,320

2013

2,247,762

 

2005

1,384,288

2014

2,788,078

 

2006

1,489,552

2015

3,891,752

 

2007

1,406,000

2016

4,755,842

 

2008

1,262,080