The battle of the baked beans boiled over this week as Branston brought into question a recipe change made by Heinz.

The Premier Foods unit claims that Heinz made the changes on the quiet, increasing tomato content from 27% to 33%, as a result of Branston’s own success in the beans market. 

But Heinz described the recipe change as subtle, saying it had been made to ensure the UK’s top selling baked beans product continues to evolve.

Branston said that earlier this year Heinz denied it was considering a recipe change, and that this was the reason the new recipe is not flagged up on the pack.

Branston Baked Beans marketing manager Nick Rabin said: “It’s proof positive of what we’ve been saying all along. The Heinz recipe is not up to scratch. Heinz have consistently denied that they’re being forced into a recipe change. Well, now we know the truth.”

Rabin added: “We know that it would cost Heinz many millions to match our recipe and that probably explains why it still doesn’t come up to the Branston benchmark.”

The new Heinz packet, launched at UK supermarkets on Monday (11 September), uses the caption ‘No other bean tastes like Heinz. That’s why we are the nation’s favourite bean & Beanz Meanz Heinz’, replacing the slogan of ‘The Superbean. The original and The best. A low fat, low sugar, high fibre food & now officially low GI!’.

Nigel Dickie, Heinz director of UK government and corporate affairs, told just-food: “The reality is that Heinz has been making subtle changes for the past 20 years, and we are constantly looking to benchmark our product against other brands to make sure Heinz is undisputed first choice.”

The company described some of the things claimed by Branston as “bizarre”, and said that the firm, renowned for its pickle range, remained “a minor player” in the baked beans market.

“Subtle tweaks have been made because we are always looking to improve on perfection,” Dickie added.

Branston Baked Beans, which were launched last November, has also revealed making plans to use the strapline Beans Means Branston for future marketing campaigns, echoing the famous Heinz slogan Beans Meanz Heinz.