Premier Foods has launched yet another attack on Heinz with the introduction of Branston Bloomin Big Baked Beans, a limited edition using beans that are 50% bigger than regular haricot beans.

The giant beans will be available at the end of the month at 49p per can. The product uses otebo beans, which are identical in taste and nutrition to the traditional haricot beans used in the standard variety.

The beans are grown in Ontario, Canada, and the crop is much smaller than the haricot bean crop and slightly more expensive.

"There has been little innovation in baked beans," said Branston marketing manager Nick Rabin.

"There's been nothing ground breaking since the basic product was introduced more than 100 years ago. Branston Bloomin Big Baked Beans is the first genuinely new product in the baked beans market."

UK consumers are now eating more baked beans per head than at any other time in the past 20 years, according to Premier. The average person eats more than 13 cans per year - over 5,000 beans each.

Branston Baked Beans was launched in 2005, and boasts a 6.3% value share of the market, according to IRI data [52 w/e Jan 20, 2007].

Since launch, Premier has added a reduced-salt and sugar variant and Branston Beans with Sausages.

"It's a year-and-a-half since we launched Branston Baked Beans and it's important we continue to reclaim the quality high ground from Heinz," said Rabin, adding that this launch is the start of a long NPD programme and investment. "We are expecting Bloomin Big Baked Beans to maintain a high level of consumer interest," he said.

Innovation from Heinz, which still holds the majority share of the baked beans market, has included adding new flavours to its Heinz Mean Beanz varieties in Smokey BBQ and Italian. It also launched a limited-edition Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce variant at the end of last year.

Premier said it was putting £3m behind Branston Beans this year, including TV and press ads.