What is South Africa’s Position in Global Cucumber Production?

Since Thursday, I have been feeling the urge to write a short blog entry about the history and production trends of cucumber in South Africa. This was for no specific reason besides the fact that it was World’s Cucumber Day on June 14th.

In terms of history, it is unclear when this crop was first introduced in South Africa. But, its origin can be traced from South Asia between the Bay of Bengal and the Himalaya. In terms of production, however, China is on the lead, accounting for 77 percent share of global cucumber production in 2016, according to data from the Food and Agricultural Organisation of United Nations.

Trailing behind China is Russia, Turkey and Iran, each respectively accounting for 2 percent share in global production.

As you can imagine, South Africa is not a very big producer of cucumbers. Our production accounts for 0.03 percent of global output. With that said, South Africa’s cucumber production has increased significantly in the recent past, partially driven by an uptick in consumption – not sure if in salads or gin and tonic – you never know these days.

Between 1994 and 2006, South Africa’s cucumber production increased by 82 percent to 27 797 tonnes. Cucumbers are produced in almost all the provinces of South Africa. However, the cucumber production is more concentrated in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu Natal Provinces.

Overall, South Africa is a net exporter of cucumbers, mainly destined to the neighbouring countries.

In terms of South Africa’s market structure, the cucumber industry uses fresh produce markets, restaurants, processors, wholesalers and retailers as channels of marketing of their products.

I could go on and on about cucumbers, but I must stop here. I am needed in the kitchen – to make a salad, with no cucumbers.


Follow me on Twitter (@WandileSihlobo). E-mail: wandile@agbiz.co.za

Author: Wandile Sihlobo

Wandile Sihlobo is an agricultural economist and head of agribusiness research at the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) in South Africa. He is a columnist for Business Day and Farmers Weekly magazine. Sihlobo is a member of the South African Agricultural Economics Association. He has previously served as an economist at Grain South Africa. He holds a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Stellenbosch University.

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