New research from environmental charity Hubbub reveals some good news, as more and more people are viewing Halloween pumpkins as food and not just a decoration.
A survey carried out by Censuswide asked 2,000 UK residents about their Halloween habits and revealed that 3 in 5 (59%) of pumpkins bought for carving were eaten last Halloween (2020). In 2015 only 1 in 3 (31%) were eaten, rising to more than 2 in 5 (46%) in 2019, showing an encouraging trend in the fight against food waste.
The findings come as Hubbub launches its annual Pumpkin Rescue campaign, to help tackle the spooky number of pumpkins which go to waste at Halloween.
Last Halloween, 33 million pumpkins were bought for carving but nearly 12 million of these were left uneaten. Encouragingly, awareness of the fact that carving pumpkins can actually be eaten has increased; 53% compared with 42% last year.
The survey also suggests a positive shift in people’s knowledge of food waste and cooking during Covid. More than 1 in 4 of people (28%) said that since Covid, they have gained better knowledge of cooking, food and how to use leftovers, 1 in 3 (33%) say that they have become more aware of food waste and its impact on the environment.
Since Hubbub started its research into pumpkins back in 2016, the number of people who have tried the seasonal treat has significantly increased, with only 26% of people now saying they have never tried it compared to 47% in 2016. Cinnamon was voted the most popular accompaniment this year followed by honey and chilli. When asked about their favourite way to eat pumpkin, soup was the firm favourite voted by 37% of the respondents followed by pie (29%) and seeds (26%).
Aoife Allen, Director at Hubbub, said:
“It’s fantastic to see that more and more households are eating their pumpkin at Halloween. However, as Halloween continues to grow in popularity, we estimate almost the same number of pumpkins will go to waste as six years ago, so it’s as important as ever that people are inspired to cook up their carvings.
“Around 6.6million tonnes of food is thrown out of UK households each year and reducing food waste is one of the most impactful actions we can take to help tackle climate change.
“Pumpkins are a lovely seasonal food that grow locally, and they’re a cheap and healthy way to feed a crowd. We have a number of recipe suggestions available to help get people cooking with this delicious food.”
Michael Dell’armi, pumpkin buyer from Co-op said:
“At the Co-op we’re committed to prevent food waste in our stores and do what we can to help our customers reduce food waste at home. We’re encouraging our customers to eat their pumpkins and then compost them where possible, to help reduce the impact of Halloween on the environment.”
And it’s not just eating the inside of the pumpkin that will make a difference. Hubbub is also urging people to compost their carved pumpkins, put them out for the birds or dispose of them in the food waste collection, to prevent used pumpkins heading to the general household bin which will produce harmful greenhouse gases if sent to landfill. For more information, including a selection of pumpkin recipes, visit https://www.hubbub.org.uk/eat-your-pumpkin. #EatYourPumpkin