Nestlé Rowntree is pushing its After Eight chocolates into the countline category for the first time in a bid to introduce the brand to a younger generation of consumers.

Packs of bite-sized dark chocolates with a mint fondant centre, in a similar format to the company's caramel-filled Munchies brand, are being launched at the end of the month. They will exploit what Nestlé Rowntree said was a growing acceptance of dark chocolate and the popularity of mint.

The product will have strong After Eight branding, using its iconic clock motif and green livery, and has a retail price of 51p.

After Eight is best known as chocolate that is handed round at the end of dinner parties, but Nestlé Rowntree has, over the past 12 months, made attempts to introduce it into new categories to attract younger consumers who don't yet entertain at home.

It recently extended the range to include After Eight Straws, for more informal sharing, and this Christmas it is moving the brand out of its traditional dark chocolate format with a milk chocolate variant, which it hopes will give the brand much greater mainstream appeal.

The company is also breaking away from the wafer-thin format with 150g bags of milk and dark

chocolate mints in

teardrop-sized bites, again for more informal sharing.

Graham Walker, trade communications manager, said he expected the line to bring in consumers who were otherwise unfamiliar with the brand and build on its attempts to give After Eight a younger image.

"The new product combines the Munchies product with the strength of the After Eight brand," he said. "We expect the newcomer to attract even more customers to the product."

The move is the latest attempt by one of the major confectionery companies to boost impulse sales of an existing brand. In April, Cadbury Trebor Bassett launched its Creme Egg brand in a bar format and in June Masterfoods introduced a 40g bar to its Galaxy Promises range.