Heinz is expanding its Big brand into traditional ready meals with a range designed to offer fellas ‘no-nonsense’ food.

The frozen Big Ready Meals range - the first time the Big sub-brand has been expanded outside ambient soups - will be rolling out later this month in four variants, each with a £2 price tag. Heinz said the range was developed to fill a gap in the market for meals aimed at men, and is targeting the products at 25 to 44-year-old males.

Three of the four microwaveable meals - chicken curry, chilli con carne and beef hot pot - come with a side serving of chunky potato wedges or veg, while the fourth is a pasta bolognese with penne pasta and beef.

Heinz was looking to build on the equity of the Big Soup brand, which it said was popular with men. Two months ago, the company revamped the 500g cans in its Big Soup range following a 7.9% year-on-year decline in Big Soup sales to £24.9m [SymphonyIRI 52 w/e 9 June 2012].

“There is a need in the market for male-oriented products, which deliver on the proposition of no-nonsense satisfying meals,” said marketing manager Sally Marshall.

The Big Ready Meals launch will be marketed under the strapline ‘Big on flavour’ and supported with in-store activity, PoS material and through the existing Big partnership with the Rugby Football League.

Heinz produces a range of ready meals under the WeightWatchers from Heinz brand, and last year launched ambient pasta meal pouches.