The story centers on the rising prices for vegetables, especially carrots and potatoes. The authors made an attempt to understand why does this happen and can it be controlled. They also discussed the current requirements of the retailing chains regarding vegetable calibration. Notably, vegetable producers and retailers contributed to the story as well. One example of a modern greenhouse enterprise shown in the program was the “Krugly God” greenhouse located in Leningrad Oblast. The facility operates as a part of ECO-Culture holding and focuses on growing organic tomatoes and cucumbers. The authors interviewed the greenhouse workers.
At the beginning of the video report, its main focus was on a pressing problem: the significant losses in the potato crop in the season 2020, caused by weather conditions. This led, on the one hand, to an increase in tuber prices, and on the other hand, to the influx into retail chains of substandard products: small and irregularly shaped potatoes that do not meet calibration requirements. Offering this type of product at minimal cost, the producers aim to somehow compensate expenses.
The story then went on to describe the effect of size and other quality indicators on the price of cucumbers and tomatoes. In fact, here, the inverse rule applies – large vegetables tend to be cheaper. Cherry and gherkins (the smallest commercial types of tomatoes and cucumbers), meanwhile, are considered a delicacy and are to be sold at higher prices. Such differentiation is quite reasonable given that the yield of small vegetables from the same area is less than that of large ones, meaning the cost of production is bound to go up.
The “Krugly God” complex produces vegetables on an industrial scale. Here, thanks to the tried-and-true cultivation technology, cucumbers mostly grow in standard size and uniform, nice-looking shapes. However, avoiding the substandard products is still not possible – these cucumbers have to be sold as well. The producer supplies them to the wholesalers and small customers in the HoReCa sector to make salads, sandwiches, and many other dishes.
The program authors also spoke with Natalia Reshetnikova, the Manager for Quality of the “Krugly God” greenhouse facility. According to her, retail chains have extremely strict requirements for the size, weight, and appearance when it comes to vegetable products. Therefore, each cucumber undergoes compliance inspection at the packaging stage before being shipped to the seller.
Lidia Terekhova, one of the complex’s agronomists, believes the retailers’ requirements for vegetables to be unnecessarily strict. Any cucumbers that are 1-2 cm smaller than the standard size are not accepted for sale. Yet they are in no way inferior to their standard brethren, not to mention the cost of growing them is the same. Peculiarities of cucumber growth are such that about 12-15% of the crop falls into the category of “substandard” by the end of fruiting. Subsequently, the complex has to sell the entire volume of such products via other channels – small chains or wholesalers – and, of course, at a reduced price.
For the full version of the program, please follow this link.