Beanz no longer meanz Heinz, it's Branston

THEY have dominated the convenience food market for more than a century – but according to consumers it appears Heinz could be something of a has-bean.

A relative newcomer to the baked beans market, Branston, has knocked brand leader Heinz off the top spot in a taste test.

The survey, conducted by consumer watchdog Which? asked 120 people to take the baked beans taste test blindfolded.

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A total of 12 varieties, including Heinz, supermarket own brands and economy lines were tested. Tasters were asked to give marks for several categories, including appearance, aroma and texture.

Baked beans made by Branston came top with 73 per cent, with Heinz taking joint fourth position, behind Asda's and Morrisons' own brands.

Which? said the results were unexpected, adding: "While the very cheapest beans are best avoided, Morrisons' value baked beans bucked the trend – they tasted just as good as Heinz and were less than half the price."

Talking about the Asda and Morrisons brands, a spokeswoman for Which? said: "Although they didn't score as highly as Branston, the beans were still tasty and were rated highly by our testers for appearance, aroma and texture."

She added: "Branston were the only beans to get four out of five stars for taste – our other best buys all got three stars. Our panel of bean eaters liked the 'tasty sauce' and were impressed with its thickness and colour."

Celebrity chef Nick Nairn, who runs a cook school in Stirling and makes regular appearances on shows including BBC One's Saturday Kitchen and BBC Two's Great British Menu, said he was a fan of Heinz Baked Beanz – although he always gave his children the low salt, low sugar variety.

"Beans on wholemeal toast with grated parmesan and black pepper – delicious," he said.

The Branston baked bean was launched in October 2005 by Premier Foods Plc.

A spokeswoman said: "We're delighted that Branston beans with their rich, thick tomato sauce, have been rated number one baked beans by Which? Its the thick and tangy sauce that makes Branston stand out."

The marketing and promotion of the Branston bean was aimed squarely at challenging Heinz's dominance of the UK baked bean market. The aggressive marketing campaign included an advert featuring a Branston bean tin explaining how Branston Beans are very "saucy".

Promotional activities included a "Great British Bean Poll" where members of the public were invited to blind taste both "the brand leader" (assumed to be Heinz) and Branston.

In the poll, 76 per cent of people taking part picked Branston.

Heinz was subsequently obliged to re-evaluate its advertising strategy, although in public its spokesmen dismissed the challenge as a "non-starter".

Heinz is still the market leader when it comes to baked bean sales, making 1.5 million cans every day.

The first tin of Heinz beans was sold in the UK as a luxury item at London fine grocer's Fortnum & Mason in 1901.

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