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University of Warwick bringing UK beans to market

It’s bean a long time coming... Baked beans set to be produced commercially in the UK for the first time

You’ll find baked beans in every traditional English breakfast – but did you know these beans aren’t actually from the UK? Traditionally, haricot beans (better known as baked beans) have been predominantly sourced from overseas. However, thanks to research from Warwick Innovations, there’s a chance to grow haricot beans closer to home, by adopting growing practices that are suited to the UK’s unique climate.

Professor Eric Holub, from Warwick’s Crop Centre in the School of Life Sciences, has used his research expertise to breed three haricot bean varieties. Embracing our Coventry connection, the blonde variety of beans has been named Godiva, while the white bean is Capulet, and the black bean Olivia.

Putting this research into practice, Lincolnshire farmer, Andrew Ward, has become the first in the UK to grow a crop of baked beans.

We’ve now signed a contract with specialist agronomy company, Agrii, which will carry out pre-commercial field trials and detailed research to enable a proof-of-concept. The eventual goal is to create a growing model that fits with the UK’s farming systems.

Professor Eric Holub, Warwick Crop Centre, says: “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 UK ingredients, and supplying the growing trend of flexitarian diets, with new markets such as Brit-Mediterranean and Brex-Mexican style food.”

The sustainability benefits

  • Currently, the UK’s leading brand of baked beans alone ships 50,000 tonnes of North American beans per year. Growing these beans in the UK will significantly reduce food miles and contribute towards achieving food sector climate goals.
  • Local farmers can diversify their crop production and explore new market opportunities. The home-grown beans will 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).
  • UK consumers can enjoy the freshest, highest-quality baked beans, which are an excellent plant-based source of essential amino acids, dietary fibre, and other micronutrients.