26 May 1995

Trials for British baked beans

"BRITISH Baked Beans" could be on supermarket shelves this year as an exercise to test-market the produce of three 4ha (10-acre) crops in southern England gets under way.

The latest trials, sponsored by Askew Barrett Pulses, Robin Appel and Soufflet Agriculture, are backed by PBI Cambridge, MAFF and the Processors and Growers Research Organisation. Expected outlets for the brand will be Safeway Stores and J Sainsbury.

Main variety is the PBIC-bred Albion. But several new ones from the same stable are also being grown. "Harvesting is still the major challenge," says PGRO director Geoffrey Gent. Taller, earlier types should help, he believes.

There are considerable import savings at stake. The UK brings in 80,000t a year at a cost of about £40m. But progress with the crop, which is not included in the EU pulse scheme, needs care, says Mr Gent. "We want it to be controlled in the right places, with the right people. But we need a big enough area to get some sensible commercial test marketing done." &#42

Bean bonanza? Jimmy Gosling (right) of Robin Appel with Hayling Island, Hants, navy bean growers Simon (left) and Tony Walter. The Albion test crop went in at Manor Farm on May 11.