Canned vs Dried Beans

If you browse around the Internet you will find plenty of recipes that include beans and lentils. Unfortunately those recipes will almost always have instructions that rely on the use of a canned product.


Having struggled myself with the pros and cons of using dried vs. canned I thought it worthwhile to bring together some of the great content published on the subject matter.


Positives of canned product

  • Use by of up to 5 years from date canned, providing no damage to the can

  • Consistent pre-measured ready-to-use smaller portions for recipes

  • Minimal preparation time - just drain and rinse

  • Private label brand has lowered cost

  • Access to organic varieties that cannot be easily grown/imported into Australia

  • Unlike plastic, metal cans are 100% recyclable can be recycled multiple times

Downsides of a canned product

  • Many products are often high in sodium (with up to 1/3 of daily intake)

  • Historically higher cost (by 2-3 times) vs. home cooked dried product

  • The country of origin for the ingredient itself is obscured by the manufacturing location

  • Some beans don't come out through the process well - i.e. Red Kidney Beans

  • Cannot get the same flavour profile compared with cooking beans with aromatics

  • Do not get to use the left over bean broth for soups and stews

  • No flexibility in portion used - multiple of 400g only

Measurement differences between canned and dried

  • A can 420g of dried beans is roughly 1/2 to 3/4 cup of dried beans (roughly 90-120g).

  • A can of private label red kidney beans that costs 80c for 420g (or $1.90/kg) actually should be fairly compared to dried product costing in the range of $6.65 - $8.86/kg.

  • A bit of research shows that retail dried product ranges from 30% cheaper to 20% more expensive based on those comparison measures.

  • Under the old pricing (prior to private label entering the market) this calculation was not accurate. In fact a branded product costs between $13.12 and $17.5/kg.

Conclusions

  • Private label canned beans and lentils (whether sustainable or not) have disrupted the old cost savings that existed compared with using dried product.

  • Factors such as taste and texture, ingredient traceability, portion flexibility and reduction in waste in recycling bin should be the focus for dried product.

  • There is still no easy way for consuming preparing recipes to quickly compare and understand how to use a non-canned bean and lentil product and the clear bias is towards canned product.


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