PR push tackles runner bean drop

Vegetable growers are spearheading a new public relations campaign to revive consumer interest in British runner beans, sales of which have slumped by 23 per cent over the past five years.

Runner beans sales have been in decline - image: Great British Runner Bean Revival
Runner beans sales have been in decline - image: Great British Runner Bean Revival

Barfoots of Botley, Wealmoor, Manor Fresh and Mack Multiples have teamed up this season to support the campaign, the Great British Runner Bean Revival, which is aimed particularly at the younger generation.

Daniel Grover of Wealmoor, one of the leading providers of British runner beans in the UK, said: "Consumers seem to have fallen out of love with runner beans and sales have been declining steadily.

"It is worrying for growers that it is the older generation that appears to be the biggest supporter of runner beans, while young adults appear to have a preference for other varieties.

"UK-grown runner beans have a great heritage and are available from July through to October. Maintaining and growing demand is very important."

He continued: "If we're to halt the decline of the British runner bean we need to capture the imagination of the next generation of consumers by encouraging children and young adults to give runner beans a try, have a go at growing their own and support British locally-grown runner beans."

To try to tap into the minds of younger consumers, the campaign has encouraged some of the country's top food bloggers to take part in an underground project where they used social media such as Twitter to talk about the process of growing, harvesting and enjoying runner beans.

Support for runner beans is gaining momentum among the online community, with 15 UK food bloggers taking part in the project so far.

These have included MsMarmiteLover, of underground supper club fame, and Lizzie of Hollow Legs, one of The Independent's top 50 food websites.

The campaign has also commissioned research to investigate attitudes towards, and awareness of, the runner bean season.

The results suggested that awareness is low among the younger generation, with 44 per cent of 18-24-year-olds unable to accurately determine when the British runner bean season is.

In addition, 32 per cent of young adults claimed they never eat British runner beans during the three-month season, but the same proportion admitted that they eat tinned baked beans up to twice a week.

These results formed the basis of the media relations campaign that is targeting national, regional and online press until the end of this year's season.

Survey results Seasonal knowledge

Further consumer research showed that last year just 12 per cent of households bought British runner beans during their July-September season run, down almost a quarter (23 per cent) in just five years.

A survey of 3,000 people conducted by OnePoll during July this year also revealed that almost a third of consumers in the UK (31 per cent) had no idea when British runner beans were in season.

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