Heinz is attempting to steal Campbell's crown in canned condensed soup by launching three of its own products into the category.

The soup brand leader is also taking the fight to closest rival Baxters with the creation of 12 vegetarian varieties across its canned soup portfolio, including a limited-edition cream of tomato with basil, as well as the rollout of new packaging across the portfolio, all as part of a £7m drive.

It is trialling condensed versions of the most popular flavours, cream of tomato, mushroom and chicken, from next month in selected stores and said it would consider a national rollout if successful.

The move is an attempt by Heinz to muscle in on the potential exit of mainstay condensed soup brand Campbell's from UK shelves following Premier Foods' purchase of the Campbell Soup Company's UK and Irish businesses.

Premier has a two-year licence to make the soup in the UK, after which time it will return to Campbell in the US. The soups were also delisted from Sainsbury's stores in May.

Jane Jeffreys, marketing manager for Heinz soup, said condensed was the smallest segment of the £260m wet ambient soup market at £13m. However, she said that people were still unaware of its potential uses and that the backing of a well-known brand in the category could reignite sales. Packaging is yet to be unveiled, but Jeffreys said the cans would be distinct from existing lines to avoid confusion and to emphasise their benefits.

The new vegetarian additions, meanwhile, will include chunky minestrone and spicy mixed bean in the Big Soups range, winter vegetable broth and autumn vegetable & lentil in Classics and root vegetable & barley broth and Tuscan style minestrone in Specials. Five recipes are also being added to the Weight Watchers from Heinz collection.

"Soup is the fastest-growing light meal and there is increasing popularity of vegetarian options, which is why we are expanding this particular part of the category," said Jeffreys.