Skip to main content


Globe Trotting Baked Beans –It’s a fact! Opinions, suggestions invited

Roy Owens presented the Informer with a challenge. He presented us with the label off a $1 can of beans. A careful read of the label reveals something very puzzling. Roy asked, “How is it possible?”.
 |  Stan Stewart  | 

The mind-boggling detail was printed on the label of this $1 can of baked beans. Its content, the beans, travelled from USA/Canada to Italy – 8,600km – where they were packed, no doubt in bulk. Then transported to Sydney, Australia -16,000km-, where they were packed into cans with ring pull lids by Woolworths and then sent to NZ, another 2,155Km. These globe-trotting beans travelled 26,155km, plus trucking from Auckland, and are onto supermarket shelves here in Whitianga for $1 a can. How is that possible?

On the same shelf are Watties Beans, same size for $2.80. I thought that for sure these beans would all be locally grown. Not so. The label on the can reads “Proudly made in New Zealand from imported and local ingredients”.

The content specs are printed on the labels. Here are a few comparisons: Energy – Watties 735kj – $1 beans 535kj. Carbohydrates – Watties 28.2. $1 beans 18.3. Sugars – Watties 6.9. $1 beans 5.5. In summary the numbers are similar, but with the $1 beans coming in with less than the Watties.

Through on-line search I have learnt that average profit on grocery lines is 2.2percent. Wow! They are used to operating with small margins, nonetheless a grocery item that travels 26,155k and sells for $1 still boggles my mind. Baked beans in tomato sauce are a common and widely used low-cost protein-rich food. Its principal ingredient is imported and has always been imported. But in these times, when we are ever more concerned about global warming, is it right to ship this product almost halfway around the world? Is there a better way? And how is it that this food product can bear the cost of around the world shipping, packaging and labelling and still be sold at a profit for $1?

If you, dear reader, can shed light on this mystery, I would love to hear from you.

A recipe

From Mark Alloway – a longtime enthusiast for baked beans – “Watties is best” he asserts.

Use a sandwich maker – either the electric type or the old style which you put in the fire.

Cover a piece of bread with baked beans. Lay on top of the beans a slice of cheese (from packet of slices) and another piece of bread. Cook. Always delicious Mark says. For even more flavour place a cooked rasher of bacon beneath the cheese. Enjoy.