Expansion of cucumber acreage and assortment at BelOrta

At the beginning of February, BelOrta kicked off the new fruit vegetable season by selling the first Crunchy King mini cucumbers of 2021. Moreover, the classic cucumbers have been available year-round at BelOrta for the third year in a row. "The addition of lighted cultivation enables us to offer high-quality Belgian cucumbers for 12 months", says Jo Lambrecht, manager sales and marketing at BelOrta.

Between 2018 and 2021, acreage increased by 24%

Year-round cucumbers for the third year in a row

The cucumber has been a long-standing bestseller at BelOrta. It has a permanent place in the auction's vegetable top 3, and the most recent GFK figures show a growing importance of cucumber in the Belgian consumer's vegetable basket. These figures showed that last year, the average Belgian ate 1.12 kg of cucumber per person per year. Furthermore, they also indicated that the consumption is mainly situated in the period from March up to and including September, with a small peak in June and August.

The popularity of the cucumber is reflected in the supply at BelOrta. In 2020, 142,000,000 cucumbers were sold, the majority under the Flandria label. The acreage of cucumbers at BelOrta will increase even further in 2021 to almost 105 ha, resulting in a cultivated area of 230 ha. BelOrta sells cucumbers in a mix of presales and regular clock sales. This makes it possible to respond very quickly to specific packaging requests from customers in the various sizes.

Lighted cultivation

"For the third year in a row, we have seen an increase in the acreage of cucumbers from lighted cultivation. This season, we can even talk about doubling the acreage, from 4 hectares to 8 hectares. About half of the lighted cultivation originates from the Netherlands. This spread provides a great logistical advantage: the German retail can load directly at the growers and the export to the United Kingdom is also easier," says Jo Lambrecht. Lighted cultivation focuses on cucumbers in the 350-gram and 400-gram grades, which are mainly auctioned via clock sales.

Constant search for innovation

In the research station in Sint-Katelijne-Waver, the latest varieties are monitored in the new lighted and high wire cultivation departments, with all attention being paid to resistances for high-quality IPM cultivation (Integrated Pest Management). In this way, the traditional cultivation is supplemented with 3 new plantings per year for a year-round variety list.

Besides searching for the varieties with the best appearance and shelf life, BelOrta also strives for more sustainable packaging alternatives, both for outer and small packaging. For example, plenty of tests are being carried out with compostable cover sheets. These cover sheets can be completely converted into compost in a composting plant.

As an alternative to the plastic wrapping of cucumbers, BelOrta has been offering its customers cucumbers with a paper wrapping since last year.

One-stop-shop for cucumbers

BelOrta offers a wide range of cucumbers. Besides the classic cucumbers, BelOrta also has Crunchy King mini cucumbers, snack cucumbers and organic cucumbers.

The snack cucumbers have a fruit weight of 15 to 30 grams. The Crunchy King mini cucumbers have a fruit weight of 100 to 150 grams. Both are ideal for the appetizer, as a snack or for on the go. Cucumbers also play a very important role in the organic section as the largest organic reference.

Crunchy Kings mini-cucumbers
Crunchy Kings mini-cucumbers
Compostable cover sheet for cucumbers
Compostable cover sheet for cucumbers