Blog: Katy AskewFood industry highlights Hallowe'en pumpkin waste

Katy Askew | 28 October 2016

UK consumers are being urged to think of other ways to use their jack-o-lanterns and cut the millions of tonnes of pumpkin that is wasted at this time of year.

According to data from Verdict Retail, UK consumers are forecast to spend GBP134m on Hallowe'en food this year. Last year saw 21.4% of consumers purchased pumpkins, Verdict noted. However, many of these ended up in landfill.

Unilever, in conjunction with food waste charity Hubbub, says that around 15m pumpkins are carved and not eaten each year. When it comes to pumpkin disposal, 45% of pumpkins are disposed of in food waste bins and 28% are composted. However, that still leaves over 5m pumpkins that end up in landfill.

Unilever hopes to use its brand messaging to tackle the issue by promoting seasonal recipes to inspire people to cook their pumpkins this year. “The frightful volume of delicious and healthy pumpkins going uneaten is a food waste horror story. This Hallowe'en, with our much loved Knorr, Flora and Stork brands, we want to inspire the nation to turn their pumpkin carvings into cravings with a selection of scrumptious seasonal recipes,” Charlotte Carroll sustainability director for Unilever UK and Ireland said.

The research was released as part of Unilever and Hubbub's Joint Ambition for a Zero Food Waste Britain. It has gained more widespread support from the likes of Tesco, the UK's largest retailer, who is setting up “pumpkin rescue stations” at ten of its stores. From 31 October, pumpkin rescue stations will recycle discarded pumpkins via anaerobic digestion, which will convert them into energy in an environmentally-friendly way.

Hubbub aims to tackle waste by appealing to peoples' “passions” such as “fashion, food, homes and sport”, and it is spearheading the campaign to get consumers to think twice about ways they can use pumpkins. Alternatives include toasting seeds or pumpkin making soups, curries and pies from the pulp. The drive is being promoted under #PumpkinRescue.

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