Beans - summer superstars

Beans have been enjoying a real revival in recent years. It's no coincidence that the UN has declared 2016 International Legume Year. Tap into this hype and surprise your customers with top-quality Belgian beans marked Flandria! Plentiful supplies are expected until the end of September.

Variation in products
This season once again offers the trade an attractive degree of variety. Alongside the traditional (round/flat) green beans, wax beans and string beans (green and purple), the range available also includes some forgotten vegetables, such as broad beans, white beans and haricot beans. Haricot beans are a long, fleshy variation of the ordinary green beans.

The season is later but longer
Yellow wax beans and string beans have become increasingly popular in recent years. Growers looking for something unique are picking up on this trend. The area has expanded, and protected cultivation and harvest spreading are guaranteeing longer and more extensive production. This means that BelOrta and REO can offer bigger quantities of handsome, homogeneous product, for a longer period, all of which is good for the trade, and consumers are ready to snap it up! Increasing sales are guaranteed and various export markets are opening up: for example, Canada is a success story according to the LAVA auctions.

Decent supplies available until November
Production of wax beans and string beans in particular is booming. The poor weather has meant that the season has been slightly delayed, but since weeks 28/29 there have been ample supplies available. In August and September, the LAVA auctions are expecting decent supplies of wax beans. The season runs until week 39-40. The trade can rely on supplies of string beans grown in greenhouses until November.

Top quality
Flandria beans are harvested young
• evenly coloured (dark green/yellow depending on the variety)
• firm and crunchy
• uniform in shape
• no traces of damage or browning
• no fibres

Flandria string beans (green/purple)
• only greenhouse string beans
• young, tender and straight string beans
• wide, long pods
• deep green colour
• undamaged and with no visible seed formation

Flandria broad beans and white beans
• very good quality and well developed
• absolutely free of damage
• very good presentation and uniform grading

Beans and string beans are delicate and are being increasingly grown under glass and carefully picked by hand. Grading is also carried out manually (sizes: fine - medium - coarse). Uniform grading guarantees a homogeneous product which is attractively presented in the packaging, a thoroughly Belgian product! On top of this, there are also ample supplies of mechanically harvested product.

Flandria string beans are graded by colour (green/purple) and length/width of the pod: Flandria Extra or double Extra.
+22 cm FL: 'very good quality' and uniform grading and careful presentation.
FL+: excellent quality, very careful presentation and very uniform grading.
Flandria white beans are classified by:
• type: white bean, regular or small
• method of processing: dry, peeled or soaked

More small packs
Marketing is via intermediation and on the clock.
The default arrangement on the clock:
• beans sold in batches of 3 kg loose in EPS-T with cover sheet;
• string beans sold in batches of 4 kg loose in EPS-T with cover sheet.
There is particular demand from the trade for small packs, which guarantee freshness and quality:
• wax beans: 400 g trays, flowpacked
• string beans: 500 g trays, flowpacked
Other types of packaging are available on request. Produce may be collected direct from the farm.

Cool storage is essential
The key thing when it comes to the quality of this product is to make sure it is as fresh as it possibly can be. The refrigeration chain is guaranteed from farm to point of sale. Optimum in-store quality requires a cool temperature: 5-6 °C and RH of 90-95%. In the shop, be sure not to stack them too close together, in order to avoid heating.
It is best to store Flandria white beans in cool, dark conditions at 2-5 °C.
Advise customers to keep these products cool when they get them home.

Culinary tips
There is a clear trend towards authenticity at the moment. Consumers want to eat differently, and cookery programmes are plugging beans as a very healthy vegetable. The various products offer endless variety. You can capitalise on this hype in your shop, by giving customers some culinary tips: maybe a potato and bean salad, or a feta salad with peppers, tomatoes and beans will make a tasty addition to the BBQ as well as being super-healthy. All legumes are a valuable source of protein, fibre, vitamins and good carbohydrates. Because they are so rich in nutrients, they are also perfect for anyone who fancies a meat-free day, as well as for vegetarians and vegans. They are also relatively low in calories, but they keep you feeling full for a long time. They really are the perfect vegetable for a healthy lifestyle.

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