The Spanish cucumber sector is experiencing bad times. Due to substantial production increases, growers are confronted with very low prices. The prices are particularly low in the Almería region. On 19 December the prices there fell below 20 cents per kilo, with a lowest price of 15 cents per kilo on 28 December. Although there is traditionally little movement in the cucumbers around Christmas, the price crisis for Spanish growers was already reason to deliberately destroy cucumbers. The large production and supply in the Netherlands and Belgium also led to price decreases here.
The problems arose because the Spanish season got going too late, after which high temperatures caused a large supply in the run-up to Christmas. "Overproduction at the wrong time", says Michael Holslag of Fruberica. "The problems with the yellow vests in France aggravated the problem."
Good quality Spanish supply
Despite the crisis, the quality of Spanish cucumbers reaching the Netherlands is no different than usual. "Our inspections did not show that the Spanish cucumber is of poorer quality than in previous years," says Fred Jacobs of the Quality Control Bureau (KCB). "In recent weeks, no more Spanish cucumbers than usual were rejected by the KCB on the basis of the General Trading Standard. This marketing standard contains minimum requirements such as that a product must be intact, not immature or overripe and practically free of foreign substances, vermin and pests."
Royal ZON is currently auctioning Spanish cucumbers daily. Four years ago, a collaboration was started with a number of Spanish cooperatives. "Important is that the supply of Spanish product meets the same quality specifications as the Netherlands product", according to Vincent Theelen of ZON. From November to March, ZON has an inspector stationed in the Spanish cultivation area who visits the cooperatives every day and who possibly can make adjustments before the product leaves for ZON. "The quality of the Spanish cucumbers from our suppliers is excellent, so good that so far we've had hardly any complaints about it."
For the agricultural organizations Asaja Almería and COAG Almería, the price crisis was a reason to have crisis deliberations. The organizations made it known that "a good planning of production is essential for good prices. Maintaining demand, supply and the time of the year of the production, must prevent market saturation in the future."
According to Michael, restoring prices must be achieved by planning retail campaigns in the coming period. "The weather is now stable."
Vincent saw the prices, compared to week 51, already on the increase again for the cucumbers, that are offered by ZON in three grades. "We arrange the volumes with our cooperatives on a weekly basis, so we do not have to deal with dumping products in front of the clock if production is too high."
Price development cucumbers Almería (left) and Spain (right) via www.agropizarra.com/es/
Cucumber prices at auctions affiliated with the Association of Belgian Horticultural Cooperatives (VBT) also fell in the run-up to Christmas, while the prices of the first lighted cucumbers in the Netherlands were also considerably lower than in previous years. The VBT posted an average price of 46 cents in week 51, which plummeted to 21 cents. The decline in Almería already started on 5 December when the price of 60 cents per kilo dropped in one week to 24 cents on 12 December. Spanish cucumbers made a similar decline with a low of 45 cents on 24 December, after which the decline stabilized.