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Pumpkin waste: Scotland's Halloween nightmare


Pumpkin waste: Scotland’s Halloween nightmare

The amount of pumpkins we waste every October, just to scare the living daylights out of each other, is huge. The figures are on such a scale, that Scotland should start focusing on some pumpkin-rescuing, food-waste fighting action.

It’s spooky to think that around 1.1 million edible pumpkins in Scotland end up wasted every year, plonked in a landfill site. And with Halloween being Scotland's second favourite holiday after New Year’s Eve, unless action is taken this figure looks likely to rise.

A number of UK-wide food waste campaigns are trying to raise awareness, what can Scotland do to reduce the pumpkin carnage?

Offsetting the Halloween money-spinner

Halloween is big business commercially. According to Kantar Worldpanel, £177 million was spent on pumpkins, confectionery and baked goods during the Halloween period in 2017.

Parents of children under five, accounted for 85% of Halloween shoppers in 2017, with millennials proving a fast-growing target group for retailers.

Nielsen market intelligence stats show that costumes and decorations made up 64% of the spend, with confectionery accounting for 20% and pumpkins 16%.

We can all enjoy this booming market, but with a more considered approach to food waste.

Halloween: a chiller of a holiday for the pumpkin

More than 18,000 tonnes of pumpkins are wasted during Halloween across the whole of the UK:

“That’s the equivalent weight of 1,500 double-decker buses, or enough food to make a bowl of soup for every person in the UK’, says Phillip Simpson, commercial director of food waste recycling company, ReFood.

According to research by environmental charity, Hubbub, 79% of us are concerned about food waste, but around half of the UK doesn't think of a Halloween pumpkin as food. And over 60% of us wouldn’t know how to cook a pumpkin. 

This is a great shame because pumpkins are a versatile veg. They can be eaten from flesh to seeds, and are a great source of vitamins A and C, iron, zinc, fibre and antioxidants.

It's timely indeed then, that the following organisations are spearheading the attempt to shift our attitude to the pumpkin.

Zero Waste Scotland

Zero Waste Scotland has created Love Food, Hate Waste. The campaign aims to help Scots cut down their food waste, and includes a special toolkit with pumpkin recipes.

It highlights using pumpkin leftovers, which can be turned into soup, curry, risotto, brownies and pies, chutney, pesto and roasted pumpkin seed snacks.

Hubbub’s pumpkin rescue campaign

Hubbub, the London-based food distributor, has been running their Pumpkin Rescue campaign since 2014. They run carving and cooking workshops, tasting events and offer recipe ideas from leading UK chefs. Pumpkin Rescue has now spread to 23 UK cities, and prevents tonnes of pumpkin waste from going to landfill each year.

The Pumpkin Festival, is another Hubbub initiative. Run with community groups in Oxford, the Festival hosts a range of activities including a pop-up pumpkin bistro, pumpkin-themed market stalls and menus, and pumpkin surplus cook-offs.

Innovation creates positive opportunities

The Scottish government has set targets to reduce food waste by 33% by 2025, and pumpkins will contribute massively to Scotland reaching this target. Industry needs to raise the awareness that pumpkins are a valuable food source and not just a decoration.

Scottish companies, retailers and organisations could help encourage the public to find solutions for their leftover Halloween pumpkins. And If you want to understand more about food waste innovation in Scotland, we can support your business with processes, product and people innovation.

Innovation support for Scottish food and drink companies

Make Innovation Happen is a single source of innovation support for businesses involved in the Scottish food and drink supply chain.

Scotland Food & Drink, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise work in partnership across academia, the public sector and the industry to deliver a comprehensive innovation support service.

Make Innovation Happen can help your business by providing:

  • Access to 'connectors', who can offer support, advice and mentoring, as well as direction to appropriate support
  • Ideas and insights on how to innovate through articles and events
  • Funding through the Collaborative Innovation Fund
  • Help to access other innovation services provided by Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Interface and others



Looking for innovation support?

Our Make Innovation Happen service can help you improve employee, product and process productivity.