Dr Oetker is throwing down the gauntlet to frozen pizza competitors as it aims to reinvigorate the ailing deep-pan sector with a range positioned as "the holy grail of deep-pan bases".

It is investing £6m to support its new The Deep Crisp creation during the next year and claims that the product's layered base, light interior and crispy exterior - made with a special flour process and a unique production technique - is different from the rest of the sector.

The company predicts that the range will appeal to a wide audience of consumers, encouraging those who have abandoned deep-pan back into the sector, and will complement Dr Oetker's existing ranges Pizza Ristorante and Bistro.

Available from next month and priced at £2.29 per pizza, Deep Crisp comes in Cheese and Red Onion, Pepperoni Supreme, Hawaii and BBQ Chicken flavours.

The new pizza format has a 25cm diameter base, which is larger than that of rival products and takes only 12-15 minutes to cook, rather than the more usual 25 minutes necessary for a deep-pan product.

Until a few years ago, deep pan was the largest and most popular pizza sector in the UK.

However, it has been overtaken by thin and crispy products and last year alone more than a million consumers left it.

The sector, which is dominated by the Goodfella's brand, is now worth £87m, down £3m in the last three years, according to the company.

Matthew Wilson, head of marketing at Dr Oetker UK, blamed "a lack of innovation within the sector and a reliance on cut-price promotions, poor-quality ingredients and little choice in toppings" for the decline.

"Rather than increasing consumer choice, manufacturers have instead taken ingredients away, such as reducing the weight of individual pizzas and using less cheese," he added.

"The sector drastically needs a boost of investment and innovation, which we believe is delivered by The Deep Crisp.

"We want to challenge the existing order."