Supermarket says reports of diminished crop are wide of the mark ahead of Halloween

One of the UK’s largest pumpkin growers has dismissed reports that this year’s harvest was seriously impacted by the summer drought and later torrential downpours.

Tesco supplier Oakley Farms, based near Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, said that not only are harvest numbers the same as last year but quality is also very good.

Pumpkins are going into stores this week ahead of the key Halloween sales season. “The quality of the pumpkins that have started arriving at our stores this week are as good as ever and we have a wide variety of choices available,” said Tesco pumpkin buyer Emily Hampson.

“Interest in Halloween continues to grow and last year we saw an all-time record demand for pumpkins. This year we anticipate at least equalling that and thanks to our close partnership with Oakley Farms we are on track to do just that.’’

Tesco’s pumpkins range includes carving, in standard, large and giant sizes; munchkin; sweet culinary; novelty, including devil (red) and ghost (white) varieties; and autumnal squash.

Oakley Farms is one of Europe’s largest suppliers of pumpkins, growing around five million each year. The farm works with Tesco to reduce waste and donates any surplus pumpkins to food charities such as FareShare.

Steve Whitworth, operations director at Oakley Farms, said: “While we had the summer heatwave and subsequent downpour in early September, we’ve had no issues with our pumpkins and there is full availability of great quality this year.”