A new trio of UK grown dry beans, developed as part of a project with the ECI, could serve as important ingredients to help our food system better serve public health using British seed, soil and sunshine. 

The growth of the UK bean

Back in 2022 the Environmental Change Institute began its BeanMeals project. Led by the Food Systems Transformation Group, it draws together researchers from five institutions who are investigating current barriers in the food system to the promotion of the UK beans. They are also assessing whether a demand for the homegrown beans, developed by the University of Warwick, could create opportunities for UK businesses. 

Navy beans, a specific market type of common dry beans, are the key ingredient in the British staple, baked beans. However, producing this factory processed food relies entirely on the importation of thousands of tonnes of dry beans each week from the US, Canada, Ethiopia and China.

Previous attempts to grow navy beans commercially within the UK were unsuccessful due to incompatibility with growth in the British summer. However, research at the University of Warwick, led by Professor Eric Holub, has now registered three new varieties of ‘URBeans’ adapted for growth in the UK: 

•    Capulet, similar in appearance to imported navy beans
•    Godiva, a blonde bean similar in size to imported kidney beans
•    Olivia, a medium-sized black cannellini-sized bean  

Capulet and Godiva currently feature in 'BeanMeals: mainstreaming UK-grown beans in healthy meals' led by Dr John Ingram, Food System programme lead at the ECI. This is part of the £47.5 million Transforming UK Food Systems (TUKFS) Programme, which is funded by UK Research and Innovation’s Strategic Priorities Fund in collaboration with:

  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • Medical Research Council
  • Natural Environment Research Council
  • Innovate UK
  • Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Department of Health and Social Care
  • Office for Health Improvement Disparities
  • Global Food Security Programme
  • Food Standards Agency

TUKFS aims to directly research how to transform the UK food system to benefit health, environment, and enterprise.

Read more on this latest news about the UK's homegrown beans.

Variety of kidney beans
By vladk213
Beans growing in a field