Is it a soup? Is it a smoothie? The answer lies somewhere in between as New Covent Garden Food Co launches a range of fruit-based soups.

The Fruit Soup range, which is rolling out now in Waitrose stores nationwide, includes an apple vichyssoise variant and a beetroot & redcurrant option designed to be eaten cold, from a bowl or mug.

It is being launched alongside chilled marinades and NCG's biggest range of summer soups to date, as part of the company's summer push.

Available in 300g cartons priced £1.39, the range is positioned at the premium end of the market and will be merchandised on the main chilled soup fixture alongside the company's existing soup portfolio. Aimed at female empty-nesters and child-free high-earning couples, the range would "broaden the appeal of the brand among on-the-go consumers", said Nigel Parrott, group marketing director.

"The products are aimed at people who want a light nutritious lunchtime snack and are also suitable as an appetiser for people dining outdoors in the summer months," he said.

Last year, NCG soup sales were up 11.3% to £53m, according to IRI [52 w/e to 19 April 2008], and the company continues to be the top-selling chilled soups brand. Parrott said he expected Fruit Soups to "follow successfully in the footsteps of its other market leading brands". Three more recipes were set to join the range if the concept proved a success, he said.

NCG is also launching a three-strong range of chilled marinades, which it claims is the first fresh marinade range available in the UK. It comes in chilli barbecue, sticky Chinese five spice and Thai coconut & chilli flavours, priced £1.49 for a 200g plastic pot serving two.

A five-strong range of seasonal soups is rolling out now across Sainsbury's and Waitrose, marking NCG's first major offer for the summer season.

The raft of NPD will benefit from a £2.5m marketing push earmarked for the total brand this year.