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Cucumber industry under pressure

05-12-2020 06:11 PM CET | Associations & Organizations

Press release from: BOGK e. V.

"The cucumber market will get tight." This is pointed out by the German Association of the Fruit, Vegetable and Potato Processing Industry (BOGK) in Bonn. "We are in an exceptional situation," says Christoph Freitag, Executive Secretary of BOGK. "We are expecting supply shortages of pickled cucumbers delivered by our contract farmers. At the same time, the demand from customers in food retailing is increasing."

The manufacturers of sour cucumbers, gherkins and cucumber sticks traditionally process mainly domestic raw materials from regional contract cultivation. The corona crisis however is making growing conditions more difficult. To comply with hygiene- and distance regulations, not as many harvest workers are allowed in a field at once as before the corona crisis. As a result, the harvest takes longer and becomes more expensive.

At the same time, the number of foreign seasonal workers, usually available, is falling. German agriculture needs around 60.000 seasonal workers only for the cucumber harvest. For all of German agriculture, however, merely 80.000 workers are allowed to enter in April and May 2020. Accordingly, farmers have already planted less. Corresponding to this, it can already be seen today, that probably only 70 % of the required quantities can be harvested.

On the other hand, the industry expects demand in retail to continue to rise as by closing the catering trade, consumers buy more for their home. Already today, manufacturers are hardly able to keep up with supplying the trade. In March and April, sales in the industry were almost three times as high as in 2019, explains BOGK. "The warehouses are empty," says Freitag. "It will be tight until the new harvest". Especially with small sorts it becomes diffucult. Gherkins and small pickled cucumbers - up to 9 cm - are the big hits in the market. But harvesting the small fruits is particularly labor-intensive. The most popular product is therefore the most difficult to obtain in the coming season.

Finally, there is another factor influencing consumer prices: The provision for the safety of employees and products must currently be implemented much more conscientiously than the already high standards in the vegetable processing industry require. The special requirements regarding personnel, hygiene and accommodation to protect against infection with the Sars-CoV-2 virus additionally increase the cost pressure for food processing companies.

German Association of the Fruit, Vegetable and Potato Processing Industry
BOGK e. V.
Von-der-Heydt-Str. 9
53177 Bonn

The German Association of the Fruit, Vegetable and Potato Processing Industry (BOGK e. V.) represents the sixth largest economic sector of the German food industry. To ensure safe production and healthy food, approx. 20.000 people work in almost 120 companies. BOGK is their representative, an information provider and facilitator towards politics, media and other economic sectors. The Aim of BOGK is, in terms of its members, to have an active influence on current legislative projects regarding food law as well as agricultural economics, foreign trade and environmental policy.

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