Branston is hoping to steal a march on its baked bean rival Heinz with the first mainstream brand offerings featuring chick peas and soya beans in sauce.

As part of a relaunch of Branston's canned beans and pasta portfolio, brand owner Premier Foods is bringing out four new 'baked bean' variants: chick peas in Masala and Mediterranean tomato sauces and soya beans in sweet chilli and Mediterranean tomato sauces.

Priced at 59p per can and available from next month, the new lines have been developed to tap into consumer demand for convenient, healthy foods, said Sheraz Dar, head of marketing for Branston.

"There is a trend towards eating more beans and pulses but many people are put off because they're difficult to prepare," she said. "The new range offers consumers a convenient way to access the health benefits combined with the familiar baked beans format."

Category growth "demanded exploration outside baked beans", she said, adding that if the range was successful, other new products using different beans and pulses would be launched. The range, which is expected to generate £2m sales in the first year, will benefit from a £2m marketing campaign for the total brand this year.

The launch is Premier's latest attempt to chip away at Heinz's dominant market share by targeting the healthier end of the market. Other initiatives have included Branstein Baked Beans with Omega-3 and its limited edition Bloomin Big Baked Beans, which has become a permanent line.

As part of the wider relaunch, new metallic labelling is being introduced to create a more premium feel. Beans will feature silver foil and pasta gold - a look first seen on Bloomin Big Baked Beans.

However, Heinz claimed not to be worried. New launches such as Heinz Snap Pots were adding millions of pounds to the category, while Branston's NPD had only added several hundred thousand pounds, it said.

Last year total baked beans sales were up 5.8% to £275m, of which Branston accounted for £24.5m of sales, up 8% [IRI 52 w/e to February 2008].