(Oct. 31) PAHOKEE, Fla. — Trying to capture growing consumer interest in convenience foods, Hugh H. Branch Inc. plans to introduce a value-added line of sweet corn and green bean packs.

The cleaned and ready-to-eat products, which come in microwavable packs and are being developed for release in early December, will be assembled in a 50,000-square-foot building that Branch is renovating for its value-added products.

Improvements to the building, located in nearby South Bay, will include new refrigerated rooms.

The products will be packed under the Branch label.

The sweet corn will come in 2- and 4-count packs of husked and ready-to-cook microwavable wraps.

The line also will include cobettes, 21 pieces of sweet corn measuring 2-3 inches each. A foodservice pack is also being developed, said Brett Bergman, salesman.

Its gourmet waxed beans will be offered 1- and 2-pound retail packs along with 2-, 5-, and 10-pound foodservice packs.

The fully washed, cleaned and trimmed beans will also be packaged in microwavable film.

The move to value added products represents a new frontier for Branch.

“This move to value-added is a growth area,” Bergman said. “It’s a further extension of everything we’ve been doing.”

The new packaging will also play a role in growing food safety concerns, said Paul Allen, vice president and partner with Branch grower RC Hatton Farms.

The company, he said, is spending a lot of money on new ways to provide the product and is sensitive to food safety concerns.