Tilda is launching its first children’s products - a range of rice and veg meal accompaniments under the Tilda Kids sub-brand.

The four pouches, which will be ready to roll out to retailers next month, are aimed at four to nine-year olds and come in Cheese & Tomato, Sunshine Vegetable, Sweet Vegetable & Wholegrain and Mild & Sweet curry flavours (rsp £1.15).

Each of the pastel-coloured packs contains one of the recommended five-a-day and features suggestions of a protein to accompany the rice.

Boasting an 18-month shelf life, the ambient products can be heated up in a microwave or on the hob in the same way as Tilda’s existing microwaveable rices.

Tilda was keen to encourage older children to eat rice, said nutritionist Dr Sarah Schenker, who helped develop the new products.

“Rice is good for children because it is easily digestible,” she said. “When they are babies it is one of the first grains they eat, but it then seems to disappear until they are much older.”

The company said it had been careful to emulate flavours children already liked - the cheese & tomato rice has a similar flavour profile to pizza, for example - and added that the trickiest part of the NPD was ensuring strong nutritional credentials.

“Rice we can do in our sleep,” said Tilda marketing head Vijay Vaidyanathan. “The challenge was to get the flavour right and one of your five-a-day in a child-sized portion.”

The products had been well received by retailers and were expected to bring £7.8m in first-year sales, he added.

Tilda is working with the UN World Food Programme to donate a nutritional meal to a mother in need for every specially marked 1kg pack of Tilda Pure Basmati rice it sells during March and April.