Birds Eye is hoping to do for the soya bean what it did for the garden pea more than 60 years ago by making it a regular feature of the dinner plate.

The company is introducing the vegetable into the freezer aisles this month in a bid to broaden the appeal of soya beans as more than just a food for vegetarians and vegans.

It is the first launch from Birds Eye since Unilever's announcement last week that it had agreed to sell the company to private equity firm Permira Funds.

Birds Eye brands will continue to be backed by Unilever's £21m advertising campaign until the deal is completed, which is expected to be by the end of the year.

The vegetable newcomer is packed in 480g foil bags for freshness and has been designed to have similar appeal to Birds Eye's frozen peas. A serving suggestion with a knob of butter is pictured on-pack to demonstrate that the beans are as versatile as peas, alongside information on vitamin C content and cholesterol-lowering properties.

Soya as an ingredient is growing in popularity in the UK, thanks to increased awareness of its health benefits. But, until now, the vegetable has been most commonly consumed in drinks, such as soya milk. However, brand manager Lisa Woodrow said soya beans could easily become a mainstream food if consumers were provided with a more convenient way of eating them.

"Some 60 years ago we launched the frozen pea, which is now well established as one of the UK's favourite vegetables," she said. "Soya is already well known for its health benefits and we expect Birds Eye soya beans to prove hugely popular as a mainstream vegetable.

"Soya beans are a new offering and by bringing them to consumers, Birds Eye is adding value to the frozen vegetable category."