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University of Warwick signs agreement with agronomy specialist to bring UK beans to market

  • The University of Warwick’s research commercialisation wing, Warwick Innovations, has signed a contract with agronomy specialist Agrii to promote the commercial production of UK haricot beans developed by scientists at the University of Warwick.
  • Growing haricot beans on a commercial scale in the UK could reduce food miles, make a valuable contribution towards achieving climate goals in the food sector, improve soil structure and help extend farm rotations by offering a short season, nitrogen-fixing break crop desired by UK growers.
  • Could be the first step in producing a British baked bean, grown and canned on a commercial scale in the UK.

Haricot beans bred at WellesbourneThe University of Warwick’s research commercialisation wing, Warwick Innovations, has signed a contract with agronomy specialist Agrii to promote the commercial production of UK haricot beans developed by scientists at the University of Warwick.

Professor Eric Holub, from Warwick’s Crop Centre, part of the School of Life Sciences, has bred three haricot bean varieties which are adapted for growing in the UK climate and are more suited to standard farm machinery.

Under the new contract, Agrii will carry out pre-commercial field trials and detailed research to enable a proof-of-concept and move towards creating a growing model which fits with progressive UK broad acre farming systems.

Growing haricot beans on a commercial scale in the UK will offer a low food miles alternative supply model to those currently imported from North America and some African countries. Haricot beans could also make a valuable contribution towards achieving climate goals in the food sector, improving soil structure and help extend farm rotations through offering a short season, nitrogen-fixing break crop desired by UK growers.

Capulet, a white bean, Godiva, a blonde variety and Olivia, which is black, have been selected for their quality, versatility and suitability for different uses. They are fast-cooking from a dry ingredient and also suitable for commercial canning in British baked beans. Alone the UK leading brand of baked beans is responsible for shipping in 50,000 tonnes of North American beans per annum.

Haricot beans are an excellent source of essential amino acids, dietary fibre and other micronutrients. The new varieties will make a versatile addition to healthy meals made with traditional British-grown ingredients.

Peter Smith, Market Development and Pulse Seed Manager from Agrii, said: “Agrii is delighted to be involved in this exciting crop area and we look forward to working closely with Warwick and food companies including Princes Foods. This is a great example of collaboration throughout the supply chain working towards increased UK crop and food production.’’

Professor Eric Holub, from the University of Warwick, said: “Self-sufficiency in food production is important for reducing human impact on global climate. British-grown beans can help us shift our diets to a healthier future, adding to other UK ingredients to supply the growing trend of flexitarian diets with new markets like Brit-Mediterranean and Brex-Mexican style food.”

Agrii Head of Agronomy, Colin Lloyd, said: “Haricot bean varieties bred for UK conditions which can been grown on a commercial scale offer a broad range of benefits for UK farming. Alongside faba beans and peas, haricot beans could provide an alternative short-season break crop for cereal rotations, improving soil and contributing to the responsible land stewardship, and adding to the viability of farming businesses.”

Dr Suzanna Wood from Warwick Innovations said: “We are pleased to sign this agreement with Agrii, with the view to bringing this innovative food crop to market and with the potential to change the UK’s home grown food model forever.”

-ends –

Notes to editors:

High resolution images available here:

Three new bean varieties: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/february_2021/2021_0201_3bbeans_dry_cap_medres_002.jpg

Professor Eric Holub harvesting a large scale field trial at Wellesbourne:

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/february_2021/prof_eric_holub_university_of_warwick_with_farmer_at_wellesbourne.jpeg.jpg

About the University of Warwick: The University of Warwick is one of the world’s leading research institutions, ranked in the UK’s top 10 and Europe’s top 20 universities. Since its foundation in 1965 Warwick has established a reputation of scientific excellence, through the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Medicine (which includes WMG and the Warwick Medical School). A global university, Warwick was named in 2021as one of the world’s top 20 most international universities by Times Higher Education.

About Agrii: Agrii, a UK based business are part of Origin Enterprises Plc and are a leading provider of agronomy services, technology and strategic advice to UK farmers.

About Warwick Innovations: Warwick Innovations is the knowledge exchange and commercialisation arm of the University of Warwick. It provides business expertise, IP protection, support services and funding to the University’s academic innovators from any discipline. It designs and delivers enterprise training programmes for researchers at all stages of their career development.

9 Feb 2021

For media information:

Andrea Cullis

Media relations manager

Press Office

University of Warwick

Email: a.cullis@warwick.ac.uk

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