Currently gherkins are exported to more than 20 countries, with major destinations being North America, European countries and Oceanic countries.
India exported cucumber and gherkins to the tune of 1,23,846 metric tonnes with a value of USD 114 million during April-October (2020-21). The country crossed the USD 200 million mark of export of agricultural processed product, the pickling cucumber, which is globally referred as gherkins or cornichons, in the last financial year. And, in 2020-21, India had shipped 2,23,515 metric tonnes of cucumber and gherkins with a value of USD 223 million.
Gherkins are currently exported to more than 20 countries, with major destinations being North America, European countries and Oceanic countries such as USA, France, Germany, Australia, Spain, South Korea, Canada, Japan, Belgium, Russia, China, Sri Lanka and Israel.
The exports followed after the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) undertook a series of initiatives in infrastructure development, product promotion in the global market and adherence to food safety management system in processing units.
All the gherkin manufacturing and exporting companies are either ISO, BRC, IFS, FSSC 22000 certified and HACCP certified or possess all the certifications. Many of the companies have adopted Social Audits ensuring that all statutory benefits are given to the employees.
The APEDA is also focusing on value addition of gherkins to increase the export value of the product.
Gherkins are exported under two categories — cucumbers and gherkins, which are prepared and preserved by vinegar or acetic acid and cucumbers and gherkins, which are provisionally preserved.
Gherkin cultivation, processing and exports started in India during the early 1990s with a modest beginning in Karnataka and later extended to the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Nearly 15 per cent production of the world’s gherkin requirement is grown in India.
Processed gherkins are exported in bulk as industrial raw material and in jars as ready to eat. The bulk production is still occupying a high percentage of the gherkin market. In India, there are about 51 major companies producing and exporting gherkins in drums and ready-to-eat consumer packs.
Gherkin Export Categories
Initially processed gherkins were exported in bulk packing and since 2001 gherkins are being exported in “Ready-to-eat Jars”. Gherkin industry in India is today fully export oriented and its exports are mainly of two categories:
a) Provisionally Preserved Gherkins (preserved in vinegar,/acetic acid and brine):
Gherkin exports are in bulk form in 220 litres, packed in food grade H.D.P.E. drums (High Density Poly Ethylene). This is later repacked by the importers into smaller, ready to eat consumer packs to suit their consumers’ requirement.
b) Gherkins Preserved in Vinegar:
These are ready to eat gherkins which are in smaller packs of jars and cans.
Quality assurance systems are meticulously followed in agricultural as well as the manufacturing process. Food safety & Adherence to customer specification is ensured all through the value chain. The industry has been found pro active in maintaining the quality standards as per the requirement of importing countries. Majority of processing units have implemented quality systems such as HACCP/ISO/BRC etc. as per the requirement of importers.
Gherkin Export: India Facts and Figures
The country has exported 223,515.51 MT of Cucumber & Gherkin to the world for the worth of Rs. 1,651.83 crores / 223.05 USD Millions during the year 2020-21.
On an average, a gherkin farmer produces 4 metric tonne per acre per crop and earns about Rs 80,000 with a net income of Rs 40,000. Gherkin has a 90-day crop and the farmers take two crops annually. Processing plants of international standards have been established to cater to the requirement of foreign buyers.
Apart from its export potential, the gherkin industry plays a key role in the creation of rural employment. In India, cultivation of gherkins is carried out under contract farming by around 90,000 small and marginal farmers with an annual production area of 65,000 acres.