Sir Gulam Noon is hoping to shake up the own-label dominated Indian ready meal market with his first branded range in partnership with Kerry Foods.

In a surprise u-turn for the own-label curry king, he has created Mumbai Spice a range of upmarket ready meals, naan breads and rice dishes that will be launched into the major retailers next March and feature his face on pack.

Sir Gulam, who was appointed to an ambassadorial role at Kerry Foods following its £124m acquisition of his own-label business Noon Products in 2005, said he was delighted to be making his first foray into branded curries.

"After many years working in partnership with retailers on quality Indian foods, I am excited to put my name to a brand new range," he said.

Unlike other ready meals, Mumbai Spice meals are not microwaveable and have to be oven-cooked. This underscored their premium credentials, said Sir Gulam: "The range will deliver authenticity, heritage and real flavour to busy food-loving shoppers, at supermarket prices."

It would fill a gap in the market for a freshly prepared, premium Indian food brand and appeal to consumers who had "always been suspicious" of conventional ready meals, added Sarah Campbell, marketing manager at Mumbai Spice. "It will add significant incremental volume to the category and generate real excitement in an own label-dominated aisle," she said.

The chilled Indian ready meal market has grown 4.9% to £257m over the past year, with volumes up 3.6% [TNS 52w/e 6 September 2009].

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