Leading British pea and bean growers are backing a campaign to kickstart sales of the struggling vegetable crops.

The campaign, which starts next month and is supported by Barfoots of Botley, Mack Multiples, Manor Fresh and Wealmoor, highlights the benefits of fresh, seasonal produce to consumers.

In 2008 total value sales of beans fell 4.2% to £162m, with volumes down 3% [Nielsen]. Fresh pea sales also slumped by 7% to £48m, with a 6.8% volume decline.

The £20,000 campaign will include recipes in women’s interest and food magazines and national radio promotion, while an online ‘academy’ will educate consumers in how to store, pod and slice the pulses. Peas and broad, runner and green beans will all be promoted.

A relatively recent newcomer on the culinary scene, pea shoots - which are the young leaves of the traditional garden pea plant - are also in season now. Pea shoots are being stocked nationwide by Sainsbury's and M&S and are available in 50g bags. Grown in Wiltshire from April to October in natural sunlight, pea shoots are said to be high in folic acid and vitamins A and C.