Posted: Tuesday, 29 October 2019 @ 09:46
The diversity and ingenuity of small businesses in the UK never ceases to amaze us. For all the conversation about how Britain doesn’t produce anything and doesn’t make anything, it is surprising just how much we do produce, both for practical reasons and for joy and entertainment. As the ghouls, ghosts and goblins prepare to come out to play this week for Halloween, a case in point is perhaps an industry that only really gets seasonal recognition; pumpkin farming.
The power of Halloween
It may come as a surprise, but Halloween is now the UK's third biggest event in terms of consumer spending, after Christmas and Easter. A little over a decade ago the market was estimated to be worth around £12 million, but now - if estimates of 12% growth between 2012 to 2013 are accurate - the market is worth in excess of £300 million annually.
For pumpkin farmers, that has also had a significant impact on business, equating to an impressive 15 million pumpkins grown in the UK each year. To put the importance of Halloween in context for the pumpkin farming industry, it’s estimated that an extraordinary 95% of those pumpkins grown, are carved into hollowed-out lanterns for Halloween, while the remaining 5% are used for soups, stews and pies.
Diversifying in order to really make the most of the pumpkin season and to add to the Halloween experience, farmers have also been coming up with more ideas to extend and diversify this niche area of their business. Increasingly, there is the opportunity to go and pick your own pumpkins as Halloween rolls round, adding all sorts of wholesome fun into the mix.
Showing further creativity and ingenuity, there are even those who have gone to the efforts of creating events such as pumpkin festivals. For example, Robert Copley, director of Farmer Copleys in Pontefract was inspired to bring the idea for a pumpkin festival over from the USA, and was named in last year’s Farmers Weekly Awards for diversification.
His festival is the largest pumpkin festival in the UK. It is a ticketed event, which attracts up to 8,000 visitors a day over the October weekends to pick the 135,000 pumpkins that his team have planted, and take part in other activities from pumpkin carving to a variety of pumpkin orientated food. After the festival, pigs are introduced to eat up around 10,000 leftover pumpkins. Later on, free range pumpkin-fed pork and sausages are then sold in the farm shop ahead of Christmas.
So just think - those glowing orange gourds on the doorstep might be doing an excellent job at keeping ghosts and goblins away this Halloween. However, (depending on where you got it) it’s also the result of the work and ingenuity of one of Britain’s wonderful SMEs.
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