Struggling UK supermarket chain Morrisons has said that higher customer demand this year has meant that its first pumpkins are going into stores two weeks earlier than usual, six weeks before Halloween.

The company said customers have been requesting pumpkins throughout the course of the year, as the vegetable’s profile has been heightened through healthy eating programmes promoting the fact that pumpkins contain potassium, vitamin A, are diet friendly and that pumpkins seeds can be toasted and eaten as a healthy snack.

Previously mainly used just for lanterns at Halloween, the inside of pumpkins was often discarded because people did not know what to do with either the seeds or the flesh. Now, pumpkin is a much sought after seasonal treat, Morrisons said, made popular by the likes of Gillian McKeith and the GI diet. Foods such as pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, roasted pumpkin and roasted pumpkin seeds are helping to drive demand for pumpkin.

“Customers have been asking and we have been able to deliver. It seems that shoppers at Morrisons are just not scared of pumpkin and are eager for this season’s first taste. In my opinion, nothing tastes better than roasted pumpkin with plenty of ground black pepper, drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar,” said Jane Speakman, Morrisons’ fresh produce trading manager.