Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Corruption of the Bean Market

I had planned to write a very different blog tonight from the one that you're about to read, a more standard blog. But, my friend and broski Tom Birch - to whom this blog is dedicated - alerted me to this very serious matter that must be addressed in some form. The baked bean industry it seems, could well be getting poured out of the frying pan, and into the flames!

The conversation began as I went out on a break to purchase a snack during work this evening. Browsing the snacks in the supermarket, I came across a new product - an event that always excites me, not matter what the product - A Pork Farms sausage roll featuring Branston Pickle. 'Yum' was my immediate thought, and I grabbed one and made my way happily to the self-service checkout. I returned to the store, clutching my prize, and as usual was asked by my colleagues for the shift - one of course being Tom, the other John - what I'd got. I showed them with glee my Branston injected sausage roll, to which John returned a look of disgust, apparently not being a fan of the stuff. Tom on the other hand seemed intrigued. It was then that Tom mentioned about how Branston make the best Baked Beans, 'Better than Heinz' he told me. I then mentioned one of those things in life that really grinds my gears, and that's when there's too much sauce in a tin of beans, referring to the other top bean brand Cross and Blackwell, who's beans we'd enjoyed in the Cooke household for years until last year when we noticed that with each tin, we'd suffer from more bean juice pouring out over our dinners. It had unfortunately gotten to the stage where the other month, we found that we were ridding ourselves of the sauce before baking the beans on the stove, and that when we did so, we were left with a mere, measly, meagre - some would say sickening - half a tin of beans. We no longer buy Cross and Blackwell beans, but rather, the supermarket own brand, or if they happen to be on offer that week, we go Heinz.

Upon telling Tom of this, he told me that Cross and Blackwell weren't the only offenders of the half-a-tin-of-sauce shenanigans. No, he told me that the budget beans, namely Sainsbury's Basics were also guilty of the same charge. Although to the defence of Sainsbury's, their Basics beans only cost around 5 pence, which is a tiny fraction compared to Cross and Blackwell. Even still, Tom then begged me a question: If they have to fill half the tin with the sauce to charge so little, then why don't they just produce tins half the size? Makes sense, as it would not only save on production costs to make the tins, but it would also save space in the warehouses, stores, and in the homes of the bean-loving public. It would also mean that those who buy these tins of beans would no longer have to sift out all that pesky sauce before the warming up process!

I agreed with Tom's more than valid point, and even provided an alternative. I mean, we don't want to tell these bean manufacturers to go to the fuss of producing smaller tins. For all we know, that could mean all kinds of paperwork for some poor schlep in an office somewhere. Therefore, my alternative is to raise the price a little then (only to what's fair) and put more beans in the tins again. I'd rather pay an extra few pence than end up with a soggy dinner when I forget to pour the sauce down the sink.

Whichever way you look at it, the bean world is in clear crisis! There's corruption afoot as far as my sources* tell me. I hope we can all stand together and fight the figurative giant that is the bean manufacturers (little Jack and the Beanstalk reference there for those that didn't notice). Who's with me?

If you've made it this far into the blog, I thank you for reading. I'll try and write the more conventional blog that I had originally planned to write and to which you have all become more accustomed to tomorrow. And Tom, I hope this is enough thanks for bringing me Chuck!

*Source: Tom Birch

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