Britain’s pumpkin season started in earnest this week with expectations high that this Halloween will be one of the biggest for many years. One of Europe’s biggest pumpkin growers, Oakley Farms, in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, have reported a great quality crop this year and Tesco, who it supplies, anticipates demand to grow by 15 per cent on last year.
Halloween fans are also getting more selective with their pumpkin purchases – with a wider choice now available.
While the classic carving pumpkins are still, by far, the most popular, the current craze is for the Novelty ‘Red Devil’ and ‘White Ghost’ varieties which saw demand increase by more than 60 per cent last year.
Last year, Tesco introduced a new variety called Autumnal Squash which proved to be so popular that it is anticipating demand will rocket by 300 per cent this October.
And the smaller, edible Sweet Culinary pumpkins continue to grow in popularity, as a result of the plant-based food boom with demand at the supermarket set to be up 15 per cent on last year.
Tesco pumpkin buyer Emily Hampson said:
“We are anticipating demand to be very strong following the disappointment of Halloween parties being cancelled last year due to lockdown.
“Our pumpkins went into stores at the weekend and if bought now, they will last well in your homes until Halloween so long as you don’t carve them until a couple of days before.
“The Sweet Culinary variety is already proving popular, especially with vegans who not only make traditional pies and soup out of them but also use them as centrepiece dishes.”
Oakley Farms, based near Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, are one of Europe’s biggest suppliers of pumpkins, growing around five million each year.
The farm works hand in hand with Tesco to ensure that there is as little pumpkin waste as possible.
Steve Whitworth, manager at Oakley Farms, said:
“The quality this year is fantastic and over the last few months we have had just the right amount of sunshine and rain.
“We are also seeing less pumpkins go to waste each year as both us and Tesco give whatever surplus we have left over to food charities like FareShare. Last year our surplus pumpkins and courgettes led to more than 310,000 meals being created to feed people experiencing food poverty.”