New developments and challenges of cucumber production in western and northern European countries

I. Vänninen
The volume of cucumbers and gherkins in the EU market is no longer growing, but there have been considerable shifts in the consumption and production trends in several countries during the last 10 years. Within the EU, geographical location of cucumber firms determines production infrastructure and need of heating, cooling and lighting energy, while variable demand, producer and export/import prices, and market structure shape business models, profitability and competition between firms. Better climate management to sustain product quality and yields is a common goal to European cucumber production in all countries despite technological differences of greenhouses. Energy use reductions in the northern and western and water use and water pollution reductions in the southern cucumber greenhouses are the primary challenges. Semi-closed greenhouse, now instrumentalized in several commercial greenhouse types, more efficient use of natural and artificial lighting and artificial intelligence make the core of new production concepts. Extending seasons to produce year-round disrupts the traditional division of labor in cucumber production between northern/western and southern countries and intensifies competition. Cucumber market segmentation based on consumer preferences for intrinsic and extrinsic quality components could be extended to differentiate the design of the management of whole supply chains, but is challenging due to differing interests of supply chain members. Cucumber production impacts but is also impacted by climate warming by several ways that require adaptation measures by the industy. Sustainability goals, labor costs and skills, pest management and needs of increased revenues are all drivers of automation, robotics, use of wireless sensor networks, machine learning, artificial intelligence and IoT. Even so, implementation of holistic circular economy principles in cucumber production is a yet unachieved goal.
Vänninen, I. (2020). New developments and challenges of cucumber production in western and northern European countries. Acta Hortic. 1294, 35-52
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1294.6
cucumbers, gherkins, protected crops, Europe, demand, supply, import, export, quality, technological development, greenhouse concepts, water, energy, climate warming

Acta Horticulturae