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Vegan food boom sends demand for sweet cooking pumpkins soaring

The vegan boom is having a marked effect on the UK’s pumpkin industry with growers planting more of the edible variety than ever before.

Until a few years ago the majority of pumpkins grown in the UK were of the carving variety.

But the plant-based food revolution has changed all that with demand for edible or Sweet Cooking pumpkins, as they are officially known, up by 150 per cent in the last two years at Tesco.

And for Tesco’s dedicated pumpkin grower, Oakley Farms, in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, that’s meant planting a record number of the Sweet Cooking variety this year.

Tesco pumpkin buyer David Tavernor explained:

“Pumpkins are no longer a novelty fruit only bought by parents for their kids as an essential Halloween decoration.

“Thanks to the plant-based food revolution they’ve become really popular with vegans, even taking pride of place as a Christmas centrepiece for the festive feast.

“The edible ones are far sweeter than the carving variety and because of the growing demand we’ve re-branded them this year as Sweet Cooking Pumpkins.”

Oakley Farms, based near Wisbech in Cambridgeshire are one of the UK’s largest suppliers of pumpkins, growing about five million each year.

Steve Whitworth of Oakley Farms said:

“Britain is becoming more like America in that pumpkins are not only bought to carve but also to eat and their sweet flesh is delicious in soups and pies.

“As a result of this growing popularity we’ve planted 100,000 Sweet Cooking pumpkins this year.”

Tesco’s pumpkin range went on sale this week. It sells four different pumpkin varieties – Novelty including devil (red) and ghost (white) types, Carving in standard, large and giant sizes, Sweet Cooking, and Munchkin.

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