The first British Baked Beans could be on the breakfast menu thanks to University of Warwick research
A pioneering project is set to produce haricot beans, better known as the classic-baked bean, in the UK for the first time.
Driven by a commitment to sustainability and food security, the University of Warwick has developed innovative farming techniques tailored specifically to the cultivation of baked beans.
Traditionally, baked beans have been predominantly sourced from overseas markets due to the specific climate and soil requirements needed for their successful cultivation. However, this effort aims to challenge the status quo by adopting growing practices to the UK's unique environment.
By harnessing the latest agricultural technologies and insights from the University of Warwick, a Lincolnshire farmer, Andrew Ward, has become the first in the UK to grow a full crop of baked beans. If the home-grown beans prove a success, it could reduce reliance on imports and ensure a consistent supply of this British breakfast essential.
Growing haricot beans on a commercial scale in the UK would reduce food miles, contribute to achieving climate goals in the food sector, improve soil structure, and help extend farm rotations by offering a short-season, nitrogen-fixing crop (extracting it from the air and turning it into a usable form for growth) desired by UK growers.
Professor Eric Holub, from Warwick’s Crop Centre, part of the School of Life Sciences, has bred three haricot bean varieties that are adapted for growing in the UK climate and are more suited to standard farm machinery.
Local farmers can diversify their crop production and explore new market opportunities, while consumers can enjoy the freshest and highest quality baked beans, produced closer to home and with reduced environmental impact.
Embracing the university’s Coventry connection, a blonde variety of beans has been named Godiva. Along with a white bean, Capulet, and a black bean, Olivia – this trio has been selected for their versatility and is also suitable for commercial canning in British baked beans.
Professor Eric Holub, from the University of Warwick, said: “Ensuring we can produce our own food is crucial in lessening our impact on the planet. British-grown beans can play a big part in shaping a healthier future for all of us. They're a fantastic addition to our diets and contribute to the rise of flexitarian eating habits.”
Andrew Ward, the Lincolnshire farmer responsible for the first UK bean crop said: "It's the first commercial-scale planting of a variety of haricot beans that could end up in a can on everybody's supper table. At the moment we don't have any beans that are grown here that are suitable for baked beans, our climate isn't right for producing this type of bean."
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