Reports that the UK cucumber sector is at the ‘brink of extinction’ may be melodramatic, but industry representatives agree that further contraction will be seen if the market does not pick up.
Cucumbers were one crop highlighted as being particularly at threat in the NFU’s recent Catalyst Revisited report after UK production fell below 100 ha for the first time. The average retail price of cucumbers has, like other produce, fallen by around 50% over recent months.
In turn this has devalued the crop. “Every other supermarket jumped on the bandwagon and 50p now is the most you can get,” Derek Hargreaves, technical officer at the Cucumber Growers Association (CGA) told one website. “Go back a few years and cucumbers cost anywhere between 80p to £1.20. If they were worth 80p four years ago, by rights, it should be 85p now.”
With few commercial cucumber growers left around the Humber, the Lea Valley now produces 75% of the crop. While there are signs of investment in new glass, none of it so far is earmarked for cucumber production.
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