Recession bit of a has-bean, stats show

HERE’S some food for thought – beans means recovery.

Official statistics indicate the Irish economy is showing signs of picking up.

Shoppers are starting to spend again, houses are beginning to sell and the rate at which people are joining dole queues is falling. But another, less well known indicator is also hinting at an economic recovery – sales of baked beans.When times are tough the sale of baked beans generally increases, but in recent months growth in bean sales has been slowing.

According to Tesco, sales of its own-brand baked beans were up 10% in the months after the economy officially went into recession. However, in the past few months sales were up only 4% on last year.

Batchelors have also pointed to a slowing in the volume of beans sales after increases last year.

A spokesman from Batchelors, which controls 67% of the Irish beans market, said sales of snack-sized cans had increased over the past year, which could indicate that people are cooking for themselves more at home.

Alan McQuaid of Bloxham Stockbrokers said this was probably a reflection of the fact that beans would be seen as a cheap product.

He said “if the world upturn holds up, then Ireland could be back into positive growth territory by the second half of 2010 – and no more beans” at mealtimes.

The baked beans market in Ireland is worth around €21 million annually.

In Britain, the same trends were seen in baked beans sales. Every month from November 2008 to May 2009, sales grew about 20%. Suddenly growth slowed to only 9.9% in June and 8.7% in July.


Louisa Earls is a manager at Books Upstairs, D’Olier St, Dublin, which is owned by her father, Maurice Earls.Virus response writes a new chapter for Books Upstairs

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