Haz Beanz? Baked beans sales fall

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Limited edition Heinz Beanz label cans

Sales of baked beans have plummeted - according to new figures from The Grocer. In total sales fell £20.8 million this year to just under £340 million. It means the decline in beans is more pronounced than any other tinned food.

So why have we fallen out of love with beans?



It's worth highlighting that this is not the end of the world for the humble baked bean. It's still responsible for £339.3 million of sales, and in the UK an impressive 1.5 million tins are sold every day. However, this constitutes more than a 5% fall in baked bean consumption, which is quite a drop.

The report highlighted a number of factors. The first was that the warmer weather this summer left us ditching warm comfort food. The prevalence of BBQs also meat that beans were off the men.

The weather plays a major part in determining what we eat and drink - which explains why this was also a record year for mineral water.

The second issue was simply that there wasn't anything new around. Baked beans may seem like something you cannot mess around with too much, but the addition of sausages, the introduction of fridge packs, and the proliferation of new flavours have caused spikes in sales in previous years, and this year there were no innovations like this.

Economic indicators

The Daily Mail also suggested that this could be a sign of an improvement in the UK economy, as sales of tinned food tend to go up when we're cutting costs (in fact sales of baked beans went up 12% in 2008), so as things start to look brighter we might be splashing out on a packet of mince instead.

This is a relatively well-known correlation, and is known as the baked bean index. Oddly it's not the only weird economic indicator that economists have come across. Here are five peculiar ones.

1. The popcorn index. Sales of popcorn at the cinema are a sensitive barometer of changing purchasing behaviour. The astronomical cost means we will only buy it at times when we are feeling most optimistic about our finances.

2. The underwear index. The greyness of men's underwear was one index suggested recently. Researchers spotted that men tend to buy underwear in the good times, so in the tougher times they hang onto their old underwear, which gets successively greyer with each wash.

3. Online dating index. Dating websites report that as the economy heads into more troubled times, activity on their sites increases. This could be as an escape from the real world - or a sign that relationships are not surviving economic woes.

4. Romance novels index. Publishers of romance novels reported a major spike as the recession began - and record-breaking sales in subsequent years, as we sought solace in daydreaming.

5. Dry cleaning index. The number of items left on the rail at the dry cleaners is said to be a sign of the times. When times are tough clothes are left longer - because people are visiting less frequently with fewer clothes so cannot drop off and pick up in one visit. There are also those who are leaving their clothes longer in order to delay paying the bill.

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