Pumpkin horror story could be coming to a fairy-tale end, as growing numbers eat their ghoulish gourds

New research from environmental charity Hubbub reveals some gourd news, as more and more people are viewing Halloween pumpkins as food and not just a decoration.

The survey carried out by Censuswide asked 2,000 UK residents about their Halloween habits and reveals that 3 in 5 (59%) of pumpkins bought for carving were eaten last Halloween (2020).  In 2015 only 1 in 3 (31%) were eaten, showing an encouraging trend in the fight against food waste. 

More people celebrate Halloween than ever before (up to 56% in 2020 from 50% in 2019), and those households which celebrate carve an average of just over two pumpkins each. This means 35 million pumpkins are set to be bought this year with up to 14.5 million set to go to waste. This is almost as much as the 15 million wasted in 2015 and enough to make a bowl of pumpkin soup for the whole UK population.

The findings come as Hubbub launches its annual Pumpkin Rescue campaign, to help tackle the spooky number of pumpkins set to go to waste this Halloween.  

Last Halloween, 33 million pumpkins were bought for carving but nearly 12 million of these were left uneaten2. 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%). For pumpkin recipe ideas and more visit Food Savvy.