Research released today by environmental charity Hubbub and Unilever reveals the shocking number of edible pumpkins set to go to waste this Halloween.
Seven out of ten pumpkins carved for Halloween do not get eaten, with 15 million wasted last year – enough to make a bowl of pumpkin soup for everyone in Britain.
In a bid to tackle the problem, the two organisations have teamed up for the third in a series of seasonal campaigns to tackle the seven million tonnes of food and drink wasted in UK homes each year. The campaign will feature over 40 cooking and composting events and festivals, as well as tips on carving and cooking pumpkins to be found on the Hubbub website.
Charlotte Carroll, sustainability director for Unilever UK and Ireland said: “The frightful volume of delicious and healthy pumpkins going uneaten is a food waste horror story.
“This Halloween, with our much loved Knorr, Flora and Stork brands, we want to inspire the nation to turn their pumpkin carvings into cravings with a selection of scrumptious seasonal recipes.”
As part of the Joint Ambition for a Zero Food Waste Britain, Unilever and Hubbub surveyed 2,000 UK adults, finding that over half do not consider pumpkin as food. Two in five British households carve pumpkins for Halloween and most of those go for at least two pumpkins.
But half of those asked said they had never eaten pumpkin before, with six in 10 saying they wouldn’t know how to cook it – despite the fact that two thirds are confident they could make a soup from scratch.
Most (73 per cent) of those who had tried pumpkin said they liked it, with pumpkin soup coming out as Britain’s favourite pumpkin dish. And there appears to be a desire among consumers to reduce food waste, with eight in 10 people saying they would like to reduce the amount of food they throw away.
When it comes to pumpkin disposal after Halloween, 45 per cent of pumpkins are disposed of in food waste bins and 28 per cent are composted. But that still leaves over 5 million pumpkins that end up in landfill, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions as they decompose and produce methane.
Trewin Restorick, founder and CEO of Hubbub said: “As Halloween continues to grow in popularity in the UK, it’s really important that this doesn’t create an ever larger mountain of food waste. We must recognise that pumpkins are a valuable source of food and not just for decoration if we are to tackle the 7 million tonnes of food and drink wasted from British homes each year.
“Halloween is a great opportunity to help our children understand where food comes from and involve them in cooking a simple meal with their pumpkin carvings.”