Halloween horror as 25Mkg of pumpkins wasted

By Matt Atherton contact

- Last updated on GMT

5M pumpkins end up in landfill after Halloween
5M pumpkins end up in landfill after Halloween
More than 5M pumpkins end up in landfill after Halloween – a real life “food waste horror story” – research by Unilever and charity Hubbub has revealed.

Around 15M (70%) of pumpkins aren’t eaten after Halloween, the study found. Almost half of these were disposed of in food waste bins, but almost a third were sent to landfill. That made on average an additional 25Mkg of waste – the equivalent to more than 15,000 cars.

“The frightful volume of delicious and healthy pumpkins going uneaten is a food waste horror story,”​ said Unilever UK and Ireland sustainability director Charlotte Carroll: “This Halloween we want to inspire the nation to turn their pumpkin carvings into cravings with a selection of scrumptious seasonal recipes.”

‘Food waste horror story’

Around two-in-five households carve at least one pumpkin for Halloween, the research found. However, more than half of the survey’s respondents admitted not viewing pumpkins as food at all, and 60% said they didn’t know how to cook pumpkins.

Laid side-by-side, the uneaten Halloween pumpkins would stretch more than 2,500 miles. That’s similar to the length of more than 40,000 football pitches.

“As Halloween continues to grow in popularity in the UK, it’s really important that this doesn’t create an ever larger mountain of food waste,”​ said Hubbub ceo Trewin Restorick.

‘A valuable source of food’

“We must recognise that pumpkins are a valuable source of food and not just for decoration, if we are to tackle the 7Mt of food and drink wasted from British homes each year. Halloween is a great opportunity to help our children understand where food comes from and involve them in cooking a simple meal with their pumpkin carvings.”

You can make the most of your pumpkin waste by following these spooktacular recipes​.

Meanwhile, potato supplier Branston opened a new factory​ this month that was specifically designed to reduce food waste. The factory could peel potatoes of all shapes and sizes, including those that look wonky but are still entirely edible. They were then sent to food manufacturer Samworth Brothers to produce Tesco’s mashed potato ready meals.

Pumpkin Halloween waste: at a glance

  • 5M pumpkins end up in landfill
  • 25Mkg of food waste
  • 70% of pumpkins not eaten after Halloween

Related topics: Ingredients, Fresh produce

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1 comment

Grown for show?

Posted by Dave Jackson,

Yes, admittedly this is a huge waste, but a large proportion of UK pumpkins are grown for their looks, not for their 'eatability'. They have thick skins and unfortunately very little edible flesh inside. Far better to grow (for example) some of the great US varieties that both look good and taste delicious. That way we get the fun of Halloween and the enjoyment of pumpkin pie, soup or risotto too. We can do better.

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