Local supermarket all out of pumpkins? Try carving a...watermelon

Supply and transportation issues may cause a pumpkin shortage this year – but you can get creative by carving other fruit and veg

The UK may be hit by yet another shortage – and this time, it could impact one of our favourite holidays, Halloween. Wholesale suppliers and retailers are warning a pumpkin shortage is not off the cards this Halloween season, following a perfect storm of bad harvest and supply issues.

If your Halloween decorating ideas include a traditional carved pumpkin, you may need to get a bit more creative this year.

Why could there be a pumpkin shortage?

Halloween pumpkins

(Image credit: Deja / Getty)

Firstly, the UK had a very wet, cool August – the crucial month for pumpkins. Pumpkins dislike prolonged spells of wet weather as they're prone to rot, and they need plenty of sunshine to reach their optimal size. This August was spectacularly poor for sunlight levels, with some parts of the country recording only 65 per cent of normal sunshine hours during August. One pumpkin grower, Wiltshire-based Lyburn Farm, said that it had to close its orders for the season, adding that their pumpkins were 'slow to ripen due to lack of sunshine and heat, as a result they are still looking very green.'

The other problem is the ongoing shortage of HGV drivers, compounded by a shortage of fruit and vegetable pickers, which is having a knock-on effect on pumpkin deliveries to retailers. This is not to say that a shortage of pumpkins will definitely happen, as not all growers are reporting a poor harvest, and the supply chain situation may improve in the coming weeks and not affect that many retailers.

Using watermelons are pumpkin alternatives

A watermelon carved into a face

(Image credit: jtack / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo)

If a pumpkin shortage does hit where you are, or even if you just feel in the mood for something a little different this year, you could try carving a watermelon – there's been no shortage of these tasty fruits this season. Katie Middleton, spokesperson at GardenBuildingsDirect.co.uk said that 'while it might be too early to predict how abundant pumpkins will be this season, it raises a good opportunity for people to consider exploring other ideas to decorate their homes and gardens this Halloween.

And watermelons aren't even the only option. Katie adds that 'in the nineteenth century, people used to hollow out turnips into lanterns or carve them with scary faces particularly in the Scottish Highlands and parts of Ireland to celebrate Halloween, and there are many other fruits and vegetables to be considered alongside pumpkins to add variety to your Halloween display.' We might skip the turnips, but watermelons actually look quite pretty as a carving alternative for Halloween.

Anna Cottrell is Consumer Editor across Future's home brands. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening.