NFU members trial Britain’s first baked beans

01 November 2023

Professor Eric Holub kneeling in a field

A ground-breaking new bean developed in the West Midlands and trialled by NFU members has had its first harvest. 

The University of Warwick is celebrating the first harvest of Godiva – a Coventry icon-inspired kidney-style bean.

This ground-breaking agricultural achievement, named after Lady Godiva, is set to mark a new era in home-grown food production, says the university, and took place at the University of Warwick’s Crop Centre in Wellesbourne on 8 September.

A food system to support public health

The Godiva bean will be harvested alongside the Olivia bean as part of the university’s ongoing mission to add to the British food supply chain, starting here in the West Midlands.

These beans will be harvested for seed, which means they’ll be used to grow food next year. This year’s crop will also reveal how much can be grown next year, with the support of local farmers.

Professor Eric Holub from the University of Warwick Crop Centre, said: “We’re trying to imagine a food system that supports public health, using seed, soil and British sunshine.

A British haricot bean could prove really important as we look to secure domestic food supplies and it could be a really sustainable solution.”

Professor Eric Holub

“British farmers are growing good food, but it’s not enough. We need to add things to the current offerings of food. What we’re trying to do here is add some new seed of a bean, that’s going to help us rethink how we eat and add things to the current supply chain,” he added.

Sustainability benefits 

Professor Holub plans to introduce the Godiva beans along with other crops to communities across Coventry in the future. The aim is to find a place for these homegrown crops on British dinner tables. Andrew Williamson, NFU regional crops chair, said: “We applaud the work being done by the scientists at the University of Warwick Crop Centre after years of research using the latest DNA mapping techniques.

“British farmers have modern, innovative businesses growing high quality produce and any new techniques that allow them to grow one of the UK’s favourite foods, the humble haricot bean that is used to make baked beans, is very welcome.

“NFU members have been busy taking part in crop trials, working with university scientists and any new varieties that are better adapted for growing here is very exciting, it is breaking new ground.

“Currently navy beans, which millions of us eat regularly as baked beans, are imported from Canada so we welcome any developments that help open up new markets for our growers.

“A British haricot bean could prove really important as we look to secure domestic food supplies and it could be a really sustainable solution as NFU members work to help solve the climate change challenge.”

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