Survey reveals horror story of 1.1m uneaten Halloween pumpkins

Lion cubs play with pumpkins at Blair Drummond Safari Park as they get ready for Halloween. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Lion cubs play with pumpkins at Blair Drummond Safari Park as they get ready for Halloween. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
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More than a million pumpkins, enough to make a bowl of soup for everyone in the country, are set to go to waste in Scotland this Halloween.

The findings, which come from a survey for environmental charity Hubbub, show seven out of ten pumpkins carved to make festive lanterns do not get eaten and end up in the bin.

Laid end to end they would stretch all the way from Edinburgh to Stornoway.

Halloween is now Britain’s third biggest commercial holiday, after Christmas and Easter, and the most celebrated party night after Hogmanay.

The study found two in five of UK households sculpt pumpkins for Halloween, with most using at least two of the fruits.

The massive pile of uneaten pumpkins contributes to seven million tonnes of food and drink chucked away by UK households each year, more than half of which could have been consumed.

Eight out of 10 people polled said they would like to cut the amount of food they throw away, but many admitted they don’t think of a Halloween pumpkin as edible.

Half of respondents had never eaten pumpkin, with six in 10 saying they wouldn’t know how to cook with it. However, nearly three quarters of those who had tasted pumpkin said they liked it, with Scots voting soup their favourite dish made with the ingredient.

Unused food costs the average household £470 a year, rising to £700 for a family with children – the equivalent of around £60 a month.

Experts estimate the benefit to the planet of eliminating wastage of edible food would be equivalent to taking a quarter of cars off the road.

Fruit and vegetables make up nearly a fifth of avoidable household food waste.

You can eat all of a pumpkin, bar the stalk, and they are a good source of vitamins A and C, iron and riboflavin. The seeds are also highly nutritious, containing zinc and health-boosting antioxidants.

Trewin Restorick, founder and chief executive of Hubbub, said “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.

“We must recognise that pumpkins are a valuable source of food and not just for decoration, if we are to tackle the seven million tonnes 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.”