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Pumpkin sales surge as Halloween customers buy them to eat as well as carve

Tesco said it had sold twice as many ‘culinary’ pumpkins as last year, since they went on sale three weeks ago.

Farmer Tom Hoggard harvests pumpkins (Danny Lawson/PA)
Farmer Tom Hoggard harvests pumpkins (Danny Lawson/PA)

By Josie Clarke, PA Consumer Correspondent

Sales of pumpkins ahead of Halloween have hit record levels as consumers buy them to eat as well as carve, a supermarket has said.

Tesco said it had sold twice as many “culinary” pumpkins as last year, since they went on sale three weeks ago.

The increase in customers buying pumpkins to eat has helped push up general pumpkin sales by almost 10% on last year, the retailer said.

Tesco said the increase in plant-based food in the UK is boosting demand, but awareness has also spiked around the waste created by Halloween, in the amount of plastic and pumpkins discarded after the event.

Many Britons do not consider pumpkins to be food, and around 18,000 tonnes of the fruit are thrown away every year after being carved out for Halloween decorations, figures from Wrap (the Waste and Resources Action Programme) suggest.

Shoppers will also have seen carving pumpkins labelled as “for ornamental use only”, but supermarkets are moving away from using this advice.

Pumpkin is often recommended by dietitians for controlling cholesterol and weight, and a 100g serving provides just 26 calories, with no saturated fats or cholesterol while being rich in fibre, anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins.

This year, instead of binning the carved out flesh, more shoppers are cutting down on their food waste by eating the delicious fruit David Tavernor

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.”

Oakley Farms, near Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, is one of the UK’s largest suppliers of pumpkins, growing about five million each year.

Steve Whitworth, from Oakley Farms, said: “We actually planted about 20% more culinary pumpkins this year as we anticipated that demand might be up because of the plant-based food revolution.”

Tesco sells six pumpkin varieties – Novelty, Giant, Large, Standard, Culinary and Munchkin.

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