Ambient pasta and pasta sauces are bucking the general trend by growing faster than their counterparts in chilled, new figures show.

TNS Worldpanel figures produced exclusively for The Grocer show the dried pasta sector grew 4% in value to £128m in the past year while sales of ambient sauces increased by 7% to £236m.

Fresh pasta and sauces, meanwhile, recorded growth of just 1% and 2%, respectively, to £95m and £45m, in a sector dogged by promotions on own label products.

The situation is a reverse on last year, when TNS data showed the chilled part of the category was growing faster than ambient.

Experts said sales of ambient products had been driven in part by comments by top TV chefs Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith, both of whom have previously recommended consumers buy dried pasta rather than fresh.

However, suppliers had also done their bit with premium launches. Innovations have included wholewheat pastas from Napolina made using bronze dies. Organic dried pastas have also proved popular.

Premium ambient sauce options have emerged in the past year. Dolmio, made by Mars UK, moved upmarket earlier this year with its Tastes of Italy range.

But brands have enjoyed less success in the fresh pasta and chilled sauces, where own label dominates, accounting for 90.6% and 96.5% of sales respectively [TNS].

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