Masterfoods' Italian cooking sauce brand Dolmio is to go up against luxury brands Loyd Grossman and Sacla' with the launch of a range targeting the premium sector.

Tastes of Italy, which will be aimed at adult rather than family occasions, is an upmarket range of pour-over pasta sauces inspired by four regions of Italy. The four variants boast entirely natural ingredients in recipes created by a team that included Michelin star chefs.

The line-up, priced at £1.55 for a 350g jar, comprises: Taste of Sorrento (cherry tomatoes, basil & parme­san), Taste of Calabria (sun-ripened tomatoes, pepperoni, garlic & chilli), Taste of Rome (sun-ripened tomatoes, fresh cream & ricotta cheese) and Taste of Tuscany (sun-ripened tomatoes, parsley & Chianti red wine).

The move into the premium sector was a logical extension for the Dolmio brand, said Masterfoods. The £270m Italian wet cooking sauces market is growing at 4.7% per year and Dolmio represents 42.3% of this. The £78m premium Italian sector has been growing ahead of the total market at 7.5%, with only a few key players dominating the sector [IRI Infoscan, to 24 February 2007].

"Premiumisation is no longer about a once-in-a-while treat. Consumers are demanding everyday indulgences from everyday brands they can trust," said brand spokeswoman Suzanne McFarlin. "Tastes of Italy is about delivering more adventurous tastes through premium ingredients."

The premium line-up is designed to complement the existing Dolmio products, said McFarlin. "We're not moving away from our loyal audience, we're recognising that a couple of times a week they want something a little more special," she said.

The launch will be supported by a £2.25m investment, which will include print advertising, a sampling campaign and a new TV advert featuring the Dolmio family.

Recent extensions to the Dolmio brand have included the launch of Chunky sauces in 2003 and My Dolmio for children in 2005.