A French supplier is targeting UK supermarkets with a range of premium microwaveable paninis.

Sapresti Traiteur will be challenging the likes of Kepak’s Zugo’s brand if it secures listings for its paninis - which are available in ham, tomato & mozzarella and three cheeses variants.

Two years ago, the company took first prize in the trends & innovations category at Sial for its microwaveable croque monsieur. It is using similar technology - packaging with susceptors that raise the cooking temperature - for the new paninis that it claimed would be “golden and crunchy” after just over two minutes.

Sapresti Traiteur said the paninis were made with quality ingredients including olive oil bread, and would sell at between £2.75 and £2.95 in the UK, against the £2.29 rsp of Zugo’s. Launched this summer, they are sold in French supermarkets including Franprix and Auchan and are also available on Eurostar trains.

Kepak said a new range would be good news for the category. “When brands want to join a category, it’s a sign that it is developing,” said marketing director John Armstrong. “We’ve pioneered the microwaveable panini in this country and it’s not surprising that other companies are entering.”

Zugo’s was launched four years ago as Ugo’s - the name was changed in 2011 in order to avoid any trademark infringements if it expanded on the Continent. Armstrong said the brand had been supported with six months of TV advertising this year, along with sampling and social media. “The brand is now well established with both consumers and the trade,” he added.

There was gap in the market for the right product, said Claire Nuttall of branding agency Thrive. “If these deliver a better-quality eat, they could help premiumise and grow the category.”