India shipped 2,23,515 tonnes of cucumber and gherkins with a value of $223 million in 2020-21, crossing the $200 million mark of export of pickling cucumber, which is globally referred as gherkins or cornichons.
India has thus emerged as the largest exporter of gherkins in the world.
India has exported cucumber and gherkins to the tune of 1,23,846 tonnes with a value of $114 million during the first nine months of the current financial year (April-October 2021-22).
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.
Gherkins is 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.
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.
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.
On an average, a gherkin farmer produces 4 metric tonne per acre per crop and earns about Rs80,000 with a net income of Rs40,000. Gherkin has a 90-day crop and the farmers take two crops annually. Processing plants of international standards have been established here to cater to the requirement of foreign buyers.
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. This ensures all statutory benefits are given to the employees.
The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has played a significant role in promotion of export of processed vegetables and it has been providing financial assistance for development of infrastructure and enhancing quality of processed gherkins, products promotion in the international market and implementation of food safety management systems in the processing units.
APEDA has undertaken a series of initiatives in infrastructure development, product promotion in the global market and adherence to food safety management system in processing units.
The APEDA is also focusing on value addition of gherkins to increase the export value of the product.