The Florette brand is set to be launched into fruit for the first time, The Grocer can reveal.

Although still at the discussion stage, Florette fruit could be launched as early as next year. The product line-up has not yet been agreed, but NPD would be at the added-value end of the market in the form of snack or convenience packs, fruit salads, pineapple trays, a kids' format or other premium offerings, said Florette commercial director Sandy Sewell.

"We have to look at the market opportunities and we have been looking at other categories," he added.

"We've got a long-term intention to take Florette into fruit and we're looking at 2010."

The brand could also launch into herbs, Sewell added. "From our point of view we have a brand with great strengths and the market is still growing strongly."

The move to diversify was prompted by Florette's acquisition of Salads To Go earlier this month. The company has a management team experienced in technical development and already owns a prepared fruit facility.

"We have a marketing team at Florette dreaming up areas of the market where we can bring new ideas," Sewell said. "We have been talking for a while [about going into fruit] but we haven't had the factory and technical capability."

Salad To Go directors Stephen Rogers and Julie Bolton had worked hard to bring innovation to their business and would be involved in future NPD, Sewell said, adding that Florette's reputation as a good-value, quality brand would stand it in good stead in fruit.

The brand would not restrict itself to British-grown fruit but would look for the combinations most likely to create consumer interest, he added.

A move into fruit by Florette would mirror the diversification of branded competitor Good Natured Fruit, which this month launched into salads for the first time.