top of page

Bean there, done that! Lincolnshire beans sizzle as the ultimate British import-busters!

Farmers and scientists are hopeful that a commercial crop of beans planted in Lincolnshire will signal the beginning of home-grown beans-on-toast.

Farmers in the UK had previously been unable to cultivate the haricot type used for baked beans due to climatic incompatibility.

However, following a 12-year study, scientists have discovered a seed that they think will enable the plants to grow.

The main brands import thousands of tonnes of dry haricot beans into the UK each week, with legumes coming from the United States, Canada, Ethiopia, and China.

"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," said Andrew Ward, the farmer who grows the beans.

"At the moment, we don't grow any beans that are suitable for baked beans because our climate isn't conducive to producing this type of bean."

Scientists at the University of Warwick created seeds that can be planted in early May and harvested as a dry grain by mid-September, mirroring the warmer months in the UK.

Prof Eric Holub of the university's Life Sciences department said, "The work that I've been involved with began in 2011, but it was actually inherited material that had been used here on the university farm in the 1970s and 1980s."

"It was put into storage, and it wasn't until 2011 that I realised there was some valuable material there, and I began reviving it."

A smaller size attempt in 2022 failed owing to a summer heatwave, but this current crop being planted in Leadenham near Lincoln is expected to be ready to harvest in late August.

"Over the last few months, we've seen empty supermarket shelves," said Andrew Ward, an arable farmer.

"That's due to the fact that we don't grow enough of our own food here."

Some health food businesses have sought to promote British-grown fava beans as 'baked beans,' but they have not found widespread popularity owing to their distinct flavour from haricots.

Prof Lang of City, University of London, said that the project's success is "extremely important."

"Having a British baked bean has been a desperate desire of the British food industry and baked bean manufacturers for decades," he added.

"People wanted this when I started in food policy 40 years ago."

"It's insane to ship a little bean halfway around the world just to put it in a tin can with some tomato sauce," he said.


bottom of page