Pumpkin sales this autumn are rocketing thanks to Britain’s newfound taste for the gourd’s flesh, rather than using them for carving alone.
According to Tesco sales data, the retailer has sold twice as many culinary pumpkins this year compared to the last Halloween period.
The supermarket says demand for culinary varieties has helped push general pumpkin sales by 10 per cent too, while a desire to cut food waste has seen them increasingly used for cooking.
Tesco pumpkin buyer David Tavernor said: “We offer several different types of pumpkin with the carving varieties traditionally more popular. But this year instead of binning the carved out flesh, more shoppers are cutting down on their food waste by eating the delicious fruit.
“Until now shoppers have bought pumpkins mainly to carve and although we’ve always stocked the smaller culinary variety, demand for those has always been lower compared to the larger ones grown for carving.”
Earlier in the year FPJ spoke to pumpkin grower Paul Southall, from Southalls of Norchard, who said he was scaling up production on his 135-hectare farm in Worcestershire, to meet demand.
“What we produce is very versatile; you can have them in a basket in the kitchen, they look good as an ornamental, and they are good to eat as well. They all have different flavours and tastes; it’s a great product,” Southall said.
Oakley Farms, based near Wisbech in Cambridgeshire are one of the UK’s largest suppliers of pumpkins, growing about five million pumpkins each year.
Steve Whitworth of Oakley Farms commented:“We actually planted about 20 per cent more culinary pumpkins this year as we anticipated that demand might be up because of the plant-based food revolution.”
There are still concerns over the level of food waste however, for a vegetable which is still widely seen as a one-off display during Halloween.
A recent study from environmental group Hubbub revealed eight million pumpkins were binned in 2017, equating to enough portions of pumpkin pie to feed all of the UK.
Just one third of Brits purchasing pumpkins during Halloween used the flesh leftover form carving to cook with, prompting Hubbub to launch a campaign under the banner #pumpkinrescue.
Tessa Tricks, creative partner at Hubbub, said: “Halloween has become increasingly popular in the UK, but unlike those on the other side of the pond, many Brits aren’t cooking with their with their pumpkin carvings – instead they’re throwing them away.”