The scary truth

This year it is estimated that 35 million pumpkins will be bought in the UK to celebrate Halloween. According to new Hubbub research almost half of these, around 14.5 million, have a scary end – they will go to waste. That’s enough waste to make a bowl of pumpkin soup for everybody in the country!

For seven years, Hubbub has been telling this ghoulish tale of food waste through our #PumpkinRescue campaign, encouraging people to see pumpkins as food and not just a decoration. Our latest survey carried out by Censuswide with 2,000 UK residents suggests that this message is getting through, although it also indicated that more pumpkins are being bought.

The gourd news: an increasing trend in squashing food waste

The survey revealed that 3 in 5 pumpkins bought for carving were eaten last Halloween (2020). In 2015 only 1 in 3 were eaten, rising to more than 2 in 5 in 2019 showing an encouraging trend in the fight against food waste. The survey also showed that more people celebrate Halloween now (up to 56% in 2020 from 50% in 2019), and those households which celebrate carve an average of just over two pumpkins each. Our research indicates that people are increasingly tempted to eat pumpkins. Of the people surveyed only 26% said they have never tried it compared to 47% in 2016.

Hubbub recognised the growing interest in celebrating Halloween and through #PumpkinRescue sought to explore whether seasonal food waste campaigns liberally sprinkled with scary puns can cut through the busy media agenda and squash food waste.

The survey results suggest that this approach is having some impact. However, it also indicates that there has been 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.

Join the Pumpkin Rescue and Eat Your Pumpkin

This shift in awareness is highly encouraging as currently the UK throws away around 6.6 million tonnes of food each year and reducing food waste is one of the most impactful actions we can take day to day to help tackle climate change.

Hubbub is also keen that people think about the environmental impact of the carved pumpkins, highlighting that they can be composted, put out for the birds or disposed of in food waste collections.

To help people ensure that Halloween doesn’t become a scare story for the environment we have created a range of #EatYourPumpkin recipes and resources, and you can download the full results of our polling here. Do get in touch at [email protected] if you would like to receive our full 2021 Pumpkin pack with digital resources, social cards and more to help spread the word. 

Gourd luck!