First Milk plans to turn soft cheese quark from UK dairy niche to £410m powerhouse - using its newly widened Lake District brand.

In its first use of Lake District outside Cheddar, First Milk will launch a three-strong branded range of quark at the end of this month, comprising natural- (rsp: £1.20), vanilla- and lemon-flavoured quark (rsp: £1.35 for each). The range will be stocked by Tesco, with further listings confirmed shorty.

The quark category is currently worth just £5m a year in the UK but generated hundreds of millions in other European markets, such as Germany, said First Milk marketing director David Young. “We really believe it’s the UK’s missing dairy category. If we get UK consumption on a par with other countries, the total quark market could be worth £410m.”

Using the brand would give quark greater standout, and First Milk will highlight its use in home baking as well as its health credentials through a £2.5m campaign - including TV from September - and a tie-up with The Fabulous Baker Brothers to promote quark recipes.

First Milk’s quark was also more “spoonable” and less chalky than imported quarks and would appeal more to British palates, Young added.

The quark will be produced at First Milk’s Glenfield Dairy in Fife. In the past, First Milk has highlighted the regional provenance of Lake District Cheddar as a key selling point, but a spokeswoman said The Co-op did not think consumers would assume Lake District quark was made in the Lake District. “They know it’s just a brand.”

As revealed by The Grocer last month, First Milk is changing its brand to Lake District Dairy Co to reflect its wider use. It is also adding on-pack “made by British dairy farmers” flashes to packs.