In Belgium, cucumbers seem to be escaping the downward trend many fruit vegetables are experiencing. "We started selling the standard crop last week, and demand is already excellent. At around €0.80, current prices are nice. But, as supply increases in the coming weeks, that will gradually decline," says Bruno Vuerinckx of BelOrta.
This Belgian cooperative did not have cucumbers all year round. "The all-too-familiar energy costs mean we have no lit crop this winter. Still, two of our growers planted in early January and have now gone into production. That's why we have a supply from six hectares, which will remain until the acreage starts increasing again in week 7 or 8. Some farms are doing low-energy cultivation, like greenhouse cauliflowers, but some growers will begin planting in February again."
They cannot complain about demand, explains Bruno. "It's good. I hear there's less supply from Spain due to the recent colder weather. So, there's plenty of room for BelOrta cucumbers on the market. Prices, too, are good for the time of year."
"Regarding that, cucumbers are the winner among fruit vegetables," he says about the past season. "The good summer weather ensured that many people ate this healthy snack. That consumption is also on the rise. Especially the younger generation loves snacking on cucumbers. For example, in 2019, consumption averaged just over one kilogram (1.02 kg) per person, while in 2022, it was 1.32 kg, or almost one more cucumber annually. And when demand's good, so are grower prices. That's most welcome these times."
BelOrta's cucumber acreage, thus, expanded in 2023 again, says Bruno. "After a super year, you always consider pricing, and more growers decide they want to take advantage of those great prices. That, and the virus pressure in tomato production, means many tomato companies are growing cucumbers this season too."
Besides standard cucumbers, this cooperative also offers specialties like mini and heritage cucumbers. "Heritage cucumbers didn't do so well last year. The trade sector didn't respond very well. Standard cucumbers were also very pricey, and heritage cucumbers suffered somewhat. Mini cucumbers, on the other hand, did better. With their ease of use becoming increasingly popular, these sell noticeably fast," Bruno concludes.
For more information:
2860, Sint-Katelijne-Waver, BE
Tel.: +32 (0) 155 51 111