Unilever has thrown down the gauntlet to Bernard Matthews with what it claims is a healthier alternative to the latter company's Golden Drummers turkey drumsticks.

Turkey Drumsters, which comes under the Captain Birds Eye brand, is being launched later this month as part of the brand's 'nutrition mission' to provide mums with healthier food to serve to their children.

John Farrell, Captain Birds Eye category director, said the launch would challenge the perceptions mums have of breaded turkey products, which has been driven by the negative publicity that Turkey Twizzlers - another Bernard Matthews product - received at the hands of TV chef and nutrition crusader Jamie Oliver.

"We want to improve the nutritional standard of the coated turkey category," he added. "The product has significantly less fat than others on the market."

According to Farrell, if all Golden Drummers consumers switched to Drumsters, it would take 280 tonnes of fat out of the category. The product has already caused controversy before hitting the freezers, and Bernard Matthews has begun legal action over Unilever's use of the Drumsters name, which it claims is too close to its Golden Drummers brand.

However, Farrell dismissed any claims of foul play. "Our view is that Drummers has become a common name in the category and believe that consumers won't become confused between the two."

Unilever said it expected Drumsters to become a £5m brand within its first year after launch.

It will be supported by the ongoing £21m marketing campaign for the entire Birds Eye brand as well as a planned £1.5m campaign for Captain Birds Eye later in the year.

Drumsters will be available in boxes of six at a slightly premium price of £1.99, which Farrell said was aimed at adding value to the category.

"It would be wrong to think we can inject value into the category by making a better product and then take it out by offering it cheaply," he said.