History of the world in 52 packs | 21. Heinz Baked Beans

The iconic baked beans pack is the focus of the series’ latest installment. Sun Branding Solutions’ Ken Birch looks at its history.

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What we know today as Heinz Beanz were launched in 1901 as Heinz Baked Beans in the US. This everyday staple was first sold in the UK in Fortnum & Mason department store in London, an early supporter of Heinz products. Cans were invented before can openers were widespread so early Fortnum and Mason’s literature detailed how to open the canister – by stabbing it with a knife.

Until 1928, Heinz Beanz were produced in the US and imported, however such was the appetite for beans in Britain that it opened its first UK factory in Peckham, south London, in 1905. The product’s popularity grew with the public appetite for convenient and safe food, and during WWII the Ministry of Food in Britain declared beans to be essential and exempt from rationing.

In 1958, a new factory opened in Kitt Green, Wigan which is the largest food factory in Europe, producing more than one billion cans every year. The beans are produced by sealing raw beans and sauce in cans, which are then placed in large pressure cookers, thickening the sauce and ensuring a long shelf life.

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The distinctive turquoise tin with the 57 varieties logo has remained largely unchanged since it was introduced. Yet, as with any well-known brand, protecting this unique identity is critical, and brand colour is integral to that objective. Different substrates and printing processes often make it difficult to achieve consistent colour. Heinz achieves this using a cloud-based colour system called PantoneLive, working alongside Sun Branding Solutions to define a consistent Heinz Beanz blue across all packs and territories.

In 2008 it changed the spelling of the product to end with a Z to reflect the advertising strapline Beanz Meanz Heinz that had been running since 1967. The recipe itself was also changed to reduce sugar and salt levels.

Although the product is synonymous with cans, 2007 saw the introduction of personalised microwaveable snap pots, and in 2010 the fridge pack was launched.

The UK is the world’s biggest baked beans market consuming 1.5 million cans a day. Ironically given its American heritage, the US doesn’t even make into the top 10 markets for canned beans – although this didn’t stop Warren Buffet spending a record £18bn for Heinz in 2013.

Ken Birch, colour and ink specialist, Sun Branding Solutions

Ken Birch, colour and ink specialist, Sun Branding Solutions