Brussels sprouts exports hit record high

© CBS / Nikki van Toorn
Exports of traditional Dutch winter vegetables have grown in recent years, of Brussels sprouts in particular. In 2017, the export value of Brussels sprouts was 66 million euros, up from 32 million euros in 2008. Brussels sprouts have become more popular abroad, most notably in Germany, the United States and Italy. Sprouts the most cultivated winter vegetable crop in the Netherlands after carrots. This is shown by provisional results from the 2018 Agricultural Census, conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).


English subtitles available

Two-thirds of the Brussels sprouts are intended for export. Although export of Brussels sprouts to North America is relatively limited, it has taken off in recent years: in 2017, the export value amounted to 3.6 million euros, of which 2.8 million euros in exports to the United States.

Brussels sprouts exports (million euros)
 Germany(Rest of) EuropeUnited KingdomBelgiumItalyNorth AmericaOther countries
200821.17.152.060.770.770.010.07
200920.57.031.532.110.980.010.06
201025.197.883.272.662.220.010.06
201120.187.393.612.242.250.010.05
201224.458.9512.761.962.460.060.08
201324.848.269.652.882.760.080.07
201424.098.767.61.32.10.130.12
201527.611.469.742.982.920.630.18
201626.2410.92114.253.511.680.32
201731.5611.4510.284.833.993.630.55

Winter vegetables mainly headed for Germany

Apart from North America, the largest markets for Brussels sprouts are Germany (32 million euros), the United Kingdom (10 million euros), Belgium (5 million euros) and Italy (4 million euros).
For almost all Dutch winter vegetables, Germany is the most important destination.

Cultivation area for winter vegetables (ha)
 Winter carrotsBrussels sproutsLeekCeleriacWhite cabbageKale
20085285.673242.973012.261329.911734.05220.02
20095742.242997.142926.151223.251661.14207.21
20105567.62949.972842.61310.641607.05252.76
20116100.962917.042747.761649.541692.07261.77
20126176.152707.42425.971558.731635.61194.02
20136141.572707.992682.461528.641672.24271.36
20146126.412729.542593.41579.281687.74205.89
20155958.892757.132199.761560.721633.06204.68
20166644.112606.492167.341723.361673.98218.15
20176479.292634.532279.131923.011671.19179.48
2018*6183.722691.121999.991875.91481.23179.08
*Provisional figures

Carrot most cultivated winter vegetable

In 2018, winter vegetables had a total crop area of 14.4 thousand hectares. Of this area, 6,200 hectares were in use for the production of winter carrots (43 percent). Next were Brussels sprouts (2,700 hectares or 19 percent) and leek (2 thousand hectares or 14 percent).

Altogether over 1,650 farmers were involved in growing winter vegetables last year; 850 farmers produced winter carrots and 270 were growing leek. Two hundred farmers were cultivating Brussels sprouts.

Decline in crop area for winter vegetables

Last year, the area under cultivation for winter vegetables declined by over 765 hectares. This represented a decline of 5 percent. Brussels sprouts are the only winter vegetable with an increase in crop area over the past few years (2.1 percent). Kale saw the lowest decline in crop area (0.2 percent), while the largest decline was for white cabbage (11.4 percent) and leek (12.2 percent).

Less leek over the longer term

In 2018, the area under cultivation for winter vegetables was 3 percent smaller compared to 2008. The largest increase over this period was in the production of celeriac (41 percent). The crop area for winter carrots was 17 percent smaller in 2018 compared to ten years previously. The largest decrease was seen in the production of leek (34 percent) and kale (19 percent). The crop area for Brussels sprouts was down by 17 percent relative to 2008.

Winter vegetable crop output (million kg)
 CarrotsWhite cabbageLeekCeleriacBrussels sproutsKale
200835014495617713
200942113396556613.5
2010362132100566113
201135713790776313.5
2012413.8130.99365.55713
2013429.9140.511061.251.57.7
2014413.3144.890.87459.75.6
2015415142.386.371.4606.3
2016449.9129.282.275.246.66.8
2017*443.5137.6104.3101.253.26.7
*Provisional figures

Production up, mainly of celeriac

In 2017, the total winter vegetable yield amounted to 847 million kg. With a yield of 444 million kg, the winter carrot was the top winter vegetable, followed by white cabbage (138 million kg) and leek (104 million kg).

Compared to 2008, winter vegetable production was up by 14 percent in 2017. Although the yield per hectare in open-field vegetable production depends heavily on the circumstances, production of celeriac increased by two-thirds between 2008 and 2017, while winter carrot production increased by over one-quarter. Production of Brussels sprouts declined by around one-third over this period.