The iconic Guinness name and signature taste is set to grace a wide range of meat products for the first time after Diageo signed a co-branding agreement with sausage specialist Debbie & Andrew's, The Grocer can reveal.

The two manufacturers plan to develop a range of products, starting with pork and beef sausages, pies and burgers in early 2009, followed by pork ribs, chicken wings, soups and ready meals later in the year.

The "upper-premium" products are expected to hit shelves from April in a range of distinctive black and white packaging carrying both brand names. Discussions with retailers over listings are under way, but no contracts have yet been signed.

Diageo planned to spend significant sums on marketing to coincide with Guinness's 250th anniversary, said Debbie & Andrew's co-founder Andrew Keeble.

The deal represents a major departure for both Debbie & Andrew's, which to date has only made pork sausages, and Diageo, which has only rarely sanctioned the use of the Guinness brand in food.

The two companies had agreed a "long, far-reaching" contract that would help propel Debbie & Andrew's turnover from £5m now to about £20m within three years, added Keeble.

"We believe it will invigorate the meat category and grow value across a range of other categories because Guinness drinkers will connect with it," he said. "The opportunity for everyone is huge."

A consumer awareness campaign will include a £300,000 spend on in-store demonstrations and a range of advertising based around the Guinness anniversary celebrations.

Diageo had made the move into licensed food to counter the vast number of unlicensed Guinness products on the market and ensure it was representative of the brand, Keeble explained. "Guinness didn't want to be seen as brand-slapping. They wanted to find a real foodie company," he added.