Crisp brand Walkers Sensations is expanding into flavoured nuts.

Owner PepsiCo will next month roll out £1.99 sharing bags of peanuts in four flavours: Chinese Szechuan Pepper, Californian Honey and Salt, Mexican Smoked Chilli and Tuscan Sun Ripened Tomato & Basil.

The company already sells nuts across Western Europe and will produce the new range in Holland. The UK products, in matt black pouches, have a stronger flavour than the company’s other European nuts to better suit British tastes, it said.

PepsiCo is looking to tap into the growing interest in the snacking nuts category, which rose 9% year-on-year to £241m [Nielsen 52 w/e 18 February 2012], and will support the launch with in-store, press and digital marketing.

“No-one is championing flavoured nuts. We believe the Sensations brand is in an ideal position to do this,” said Sensations Nuts business manager Pete Skipwith.

But PepsiCo isn’t the only international player eyeing the UK nuts market, with US brand Blue Diamond Almonds planning a major push here this year.

It already has listings in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Tesco and is adding two new flavours to the portfolio, reducing its pack sizes to become more competitive on price, and refreshing its branding in a bid to boost sales in the UK.

The full almond range will comprise Roasted with Sea Salt, Smokehouse, Wasabi and Soy Sauce, and new flavours Thai Sweet Chilli and Honey Roasted (rsp: £1.49/80g). The activity will be supported with in-store promotions, sampling and PR.

Owner Blue Diamond Growers, which posted total worldwide sales of £520m last year (US $825m), claimed it has doubled UK sales in the past 12 months thanks to increased distribution.