Caribbean specialist Enco Products is taking on Uncle Ben's and Tilda with what it claims is the first range of microwaveable Caribbean rice pouches.

The Caribbean Traditions line, rsp £1.69, consists of Rice & Pigeon Peas Mix, Rice & Kidney Beans Mix and Rice & Blackeye Peas Mix - the three most common rice dishes in islands such as Jamaica and Barbados, according to the company.

The launch comes more than a year after Tilda and Uncle Ben's introduced their first pre-steamed microwaveable rice ranges.

The success of Levi Roots' Reggae Reggae sauce and Jamie Oliver's championing of world cuisine had sparked consumer enthusiasm for Caribbean food, said George Phillips, Enco Products' commercial director.

He claimed year-on-year category sales growth was up 20% and predicted first-year sales of £750,000 for the range.

"Our new products take some of the hassle out of preparing traditional dishes, which rely on a large number of ingredients and spices," said Phillips.

"The rice mixes can be used as a meal accompaniment but also have enough peas or beans to be eaten on their own.

"They offer a unique point of difference to the well-established microwaveable rice category."

The launch will be backed with extensive sampling and PR activity and the range will arrive on shelf in major retailers by the New Year.

Two weeks ago The Grocer revealed upstart rice brand Veetee was set to overtake Tilda in volume sales in the microwaveable rice category.