Over half UK’s 24m Halloween pumpkins destined for food waste

More than half of the 24m pumpkins carved for Halloween in Britain this year will not be eaten, according to new research.

The findings suggest that one in seven people who celebrate Halloween do not regard the gourds as food while only 42% realise the fleshy innards of a carving pumpkin are edible.

The poll of 3,000 adults in the UK, carried out by the food charity Hubbub, reveals that of the 24m pumpkins bought, 12.76m will be carved but the flesh not used. Hubbub has warned this will add to the UK’s mountain of avoidable food waste and is urging consumers to experiment with new recipes.

“Pumpkins are a valuable source of food and are not just for decoration,” said Tessa Tricks, the head of food programmes at Hubbub. “Even if it’s labelled a carving pumpkin, you can still eat it and it will taste delicious with spices like chilli, ginger or cumin.

“We know that over lockdown many people developed a love of cooking from scratch and are valuing food more, so we’re urging people to make the most of every part of this nutritious and versatile food. Every pumpkin eaten is a step towards tackling the 6.6m tonnes of food and drink thrown away from UK homes every year.”

The research also suggests that 2m discarded pumpkins will end up in the general household bin, so people are advised to compost their carved pumpkins, put them out for birds or dispose of them in the food waste collection.

Halloween has mushroomed into a big money-spinner for UK retailers, although this year’s ritual will be a slimmed-down affair as a result of coronavirus. Hubbub said half of all households celebrate Halloween, but while 47% of these went trick or treating last year, only 33% planned to this year.

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