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Demand for pumpkins set to be huge as Halloween revellers make up for last year’s cancelled event

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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Food & Drink

Pembrokeshire Lamb gets the ‘Golden Fork’ at Great Taste Awards

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Pembrokeshire Lamb Ltd has received the highest accolade in the Great Taste Golden Fork awards 2021.

From the eleven Welsh products that received the top honour of 3 gold stars in the Great Taste awards 2021, the Golden Fork from Wales was awarded to Pembrokeshire Lamb Ltd for their Hogget Shoulder.

Pembrokeshire Lamb produce lamb, hogget and mutton on their small family farm in North Pembrokeshire. Steve and Kara Lewis set up the company in 2019, with the aim of creating sustainable meat boxes with the mantra ‘fresh is best’.

Commenting on the 3-star product Pembrokeshire Lamb’s Steve Lewis said: “Our grass fed hogget is from our family farm in Pembrokeshire. It is richer and deeper in flavour than lamb and takes additional flavours very well. The way we rear and hang our hogget leads to a tender and flavoured product.”

In addition to getting a 3-star, they also gained 2-stars for their Lamb Shoulder, Mutton Shoulder, Mutton Mince and 1-star for their Signature Burger which is made with mutton. They also received 1-star  awards for their Brown Sauce and Indian Style Kebab Rub under the brand The Welsh Saucery.

Commenting further on their achievement Steve added: “We’re absolutely delighted to win the Great Taste Golden Fork from Wales award. It is a great achievement for us to have won a number of awards for our products in these prestigious awards and is a real testament to the hard work that we as a family have put into the business.”

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Congratulating Pembrokeshire Lamb on their achievements, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd Lesley Griffiths MS said, “I would like to congratulate Pembrokeshire Lamb on their achievements in this year’s Great Taste Awards. It is great to see Welsh businesses recognised for the outstanding quality of the food they produce.

“The judges from the Guild of Fine Foods have identified produce of the highest quality from every part of Wales, reflecting the hard work and creativity which is characteristic of our world class food industry.

“Everyone at Pembrokeshire Lamb should be very proud and I wish them all the very best for the future.”

Recognised as a stamp of excellence among consumers and retailers alike, Great Taste, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers, and is described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world.

An exceptional 270 Welsh products ranging from small independent artisan producers to large scale distributors have been deemed worthy of this prestigious award, with 190 products achieving 1-star, 69 receiving 2-stars and 11 earning the gold stamp of approval with 3-stars.

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(Lead image: Pembrokeshire Lamb)

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Food & Drink

MP pledges support for local pubs in Gower

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Tonia Antoniazzi MP has pledged her support for the Long Live the Local campaign to help pubs and breweries in Gower recover and thrive.

Tonia joins over 125,000 people who have signed the petition so far, including 137 in Gower alone.

Ms Antoniazzi is calling on the Government to lower VAT for pubs and for an overall reduction in Beer Duty.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on brewers and pubs throughout the UK and continues to do so as the sector tries to kickstart its recovery.

The campaign argues that the sector needs an immediate boost and the fact that a local pub adds £100,000 to its local economy, creates jobs and acts as a social hub, underlines how directly investment in the form of lower VAT and an overall cut to beer duty can help pubs and their communities to recover. It will also boost Britain’s world class brewing sector, a homegrown manufacturing success story that brews over 80% of the beer we drink.

Brewing and pubs in Gower supports 1344 jobs and contributes £29m to the local economy. With £1 in every £3 pounds spent in UK pubs going to the taxman, British drinkers and pub goers are overtaxed and this is hampering the recovery of our cherished locals and Britain`s brewers.

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Commenting on the campaign, Tonia Antoniazzi MP said: “Pubs are at the heart of communities across Gower, but with pubs bearing a disproportionate burden as a result of the pandemic the Government should consider cutting unfair taxes on pubs that are hampering their recovery. I’m supporting the Long Live the Local campaign and calling on the Chancellor to lower VAT for pubs and reduce Beer Duty overall at this year’s Budget to support the recovery of pubs.”

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said: “85% of pubs are based in community and rural areas, bringing jobs to the parts of the UK that need them most. They employ over 600,000 people, of which 43% are under 25. Cutting VAT and an overall reduction in Beer Duty would go a long way to helping pubs and brewers across Gower that are desperately trying to recover.

“We are very grateful to Tonia Antoniazzi for her support for the Long Live the Local campaign, and hope that the Government listens to MPs across Parliament and the thousands of people across the country who are calling on the Chancellor to lower VAT & Business Rates for pubs and reduce Beer Duty overall.”

Lead image: Emma McClarkin with Tonia Antoniazzi. 

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Charity

Tesco shoppers in Swansea help to provide £1million boost to health

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People in Swansea have been thanked for contributing towards the £1million raised for
three life-saving charities as part of Tesco’s ‘Helping you to live healthier’ initiative.

Tesco customers reached the landmark total for Cancer Research UK, the British Heart
Foundation and Diabetes UK from 13-26 September by rounding up their shop in store to
the nearest £1.

The funds raised will now help the three charities continue their vital work to save and
improve lives.

In addition to the £1million donated, the campaign raised awareness in Swansea about
the importance of people making sustainable lifestyle changes that can help lower their
risk of cancer, heart and circulatory diseases, and type 2 diabetes.

This was done with the help of trusted health information and advice, which was shared
to empower Tesco customers to take small steps to help improve their health.

Oonagh Turnbull, Head of Health Campaigns at Tesco, thanked Tesco shoppers in
Swansea for their generosity, which will make a significant difference to many people’s
lives.

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She added: “It has been inspiring to see our customers really engage with the work we
are doing together, and we hope that we have played a part in raising awareness for
these conditions, as well as life-saving funds.”

The campaign was part of the Health Charity Partnership between Tesco, Cancer
Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK, which aims to inspire and
support Tesco colleagues, customers and their families to make healthier food choices
and live healthier lives.

On behalf of the charity partners , Claire Sadler, Executive Director of Marketing,
Fundraising and Engagement at the British Heart Foundation, said
: “We have been amazed by the incredible generosity of Tesco customers and colleagues
and would like to thank everyone who donated during September.

“Your donations will help to empower millions of people to make healthier choices that
lower their risk of heart and circulatory diseases, cancer, and diabetes. It will also help
our charities provide vital support to millions of people at a time it’s never been more
needed, and it will fund research with the potential to save lives.”

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