Bush’s partners with Blue Zones to promote the healthy aspects of beans

Dive Brief:

  • Bush’s Beans is partnering with Blue Zones LLC on an organic, plant-based line of products designed to help foster long life. The four products in this line — Curried Chickpea and Zesty Black Bean Organic Bowl Toppers, and Hearty Vegetable and White Bean Vegetable Organic Soups — are now available for limited purchase online and will be sold in stores next year.
  • Blue Zones, an organization that promotes health and longevity, is named after a 2005 magazine article profiling the five places in the world with the largest proportion of people living to be 100. This is the first time that it has partnered with a CPG company on a bean-related product launch.
  • As consumers have turned to healthy products they can prepare at home during the pandemic, canned beans have reaped the benefits. According to NielsenIQ statistics, canned bean sales increased 5.9% during the first year of the pandemic compared to the year prior.

Dive Insight:

Bush’s has been on a quest to put beans in the spotlight for their natural nutritional value, sustainability credentials, and convenience. In the past year, the company has used lighthearted and smart marketing coupled with healthy innovations to catch and keep consumers’ attention. And while Bush’s promotes the healthfulness of its products, nutritional facts and figures are never the most important part of its message. The company instead uses more subtle ways to let consumers know the product is good for them, like Josh Groban singing a ballad about the healthy and tasty aspects of beans.

This partnership plays directly into that message. Blue Zones, now an international organization dedicated to wellness, is known for being an authority on how to eat and live well. The cans of the Bush’s Blue Zone beans prominently feature the group’s name and symbol, and the label itself is a distinctive light blue. The branding is obvious and noticeable, but doesn’t have overt language touting the healthfulness of the product itself.

“Like the Blue Zones team, we passionately believe that beans, humble though they are, are an essential part of a diet and lifestyle that may help people live healthier, longer,” Bush’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Innovation Stephen Palacios said in a written statement.

Blue Zones has been a household name for more than 15 years. Following the original National Geographic article written by Dan Buettner — which profiled the people in Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California — the brand has extended into food recommendations. Buettner authored “The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100,” which was published in 2019, and the organization’s website offers a collection of healthy recipes. Bush’s products easily fit into Blue Zones’ basic food guidelines, which recommend diets be at least 95% plant-based, with between a half and a full cup of beans daily.

While Blue Zones’ branding is available for licensing by food products, only one other brand — Costa Rican manufacturer Blue Zones Nicoya — uses it. This online-only brand sources its coffee, tea, honey, hot sauce and supplements directly from one of the Blue Zones regions.

While some consumers may feel imported Costa Rican raw honey is an unnecessarily premium product, Bush’s is already a ubiquitous and accessible brand. The final products are slated to hit shelves next year, but Bush’s stressed in a press release that a wide variety of the company’s products that don’t have the branding are Blue Zones-friendly — a gentle push that may spur more nutritional association for Bush’s. 

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