Leaf has launched a new range of its Chewits sweets that it hopes will appeal to adults as well as kids - and reinforce its better-for-you credentials.

The three-strong healthier range, Chewits Truly, will be launched next month and forms part of Leaf's drive to position itself as a "healthier confectionery company".

The range consists of Chewits Truly Smoothy Berry Whites targeted at adults, Chewits Truly Juicy positioned for sharing and Chewits Truly Smoothy Crazy Animals for children.

To flag up the health credentials, all three variants have bold green flashes on packs such as 'real fruit juice', '30% less sugar' and 'coloured by nature'.

Brand manager Karen Green said the move was a natural step for Chewits, which had "high recognition with consumers, most of whom ate the sweets when they were children".

"Chewits Truly will take the brand firmly into the family market by appealing to adult sweet lovers who are ingredient-savvy," she said. Leaf is supporting the launch with an £800,000 push including press and sampling from next month.

In the UK, the market for healthier confectionery has grown 40% since 2001 to more than £390m [Mintel].

Leaf first went down the better-for-you route in 2006 with Red Band followed by a healthy reformulation of Chewits last year, in which artificial colours were removed and more fruit juice was added.

However, Hancocks purchasing director Richard Brittle warned that the independent market was not ready for "an excessive number" of healthy and good-for-you confectionery products yet.

"A great deal of marketing support would be required to introduce a range such as Chewits Truly effectively. Hancocks has tried many lines during the past year and they have not performed well," he said.

Last month, Cadbury Trebor Bassett revealed plans for a major roll-out of The Natural Confectionery Company and a multimillion-pound campaign from early summer.

At the end of last year, Leaf appointed Stuart Lane, former head of Burton's Foods biscuits division, to the new role of commercial director, in charge of developing Chewits.