For the first time, Northern Ireland supermarket shoppers will be able to buy pumpkins which have been grown on home soil, thanks to a new partnership between Asda and its main vegetable supplier, Gilfresh.

This year, Asda commissioned the Loughgall-based family-run company to grow and supply over 50,000 pumpkins for its 16 Northern Ireland stores.

This will deliver almost half of the total number of pumpkins sold in Asda supermarkets in the region in the run-up to Halloween.

Due to the unique conditions required to cultivate pumpkins on a commercial scale, Asda had previously been unable to source them in Northern Ireland and depended purely on stocks from specialist farms across England.

However, as one of Asda’s main vegetable suppliers, and with over 50 years’ experience of crop cultivation, the innovative Gilfresh team rose to the challenge and developed a growing programme to deliver the perfect size and quality of pumpkin.

With the crop now almost ready for harvesting, Danielle Mitchell from Gilfresh said: “This is a very important and exciting first for Asda and Gilfresh, and it highlights both the level of trust in our partnership and the expertise within our business.

The crop was planted in June and since then, customers have followed its development as they pass our fields on the main road between Portadown and Armagh.

“We’re delighted with the results and look forward to our first pumpkin harvest.”

Adding his support, Billy Clelland, quality manager for Asda NI, said: “Asda is passionate about supporting our Northern Ireland based food companies and we’re always looking for ways in which we can help drive innovation and reduce food miles.

“Gilfresh is one of our long-standing vegetable suppliers and we’re so pleased they’ve helped us achieve this important first which will ensure the Halloween celebrations here are more local than ever.”