Leaf confectionery wants to do a 'Go ahead!' in the sugar confectionery category, by creating an umbrella brand for healthier products.

It plans to roll out the Red Band name across Europe but is launching it in the UK first this month. The aim is to incorporate both reduced sugar and sugar-free lines, and cover the age spectrum from children to adults.

Tony Camp, managing director, has thrown down the gauntlet to other confectionery manufacturers.

"Sweets will never be an apple but some are better than others," he said.

"Clever manufacturers are looking at what profit there is in healthier lines and adjusting their ranges accordingly. Healthier confectionery is only a £20m sector at the moment, but that is what healthier biscuits was worth ten years ago and it now tops £320m.

"This is not a fad and manufacturers have been slow to respond to this long-term trend.

"The vast majority of healthier confectionery is in sugar-free boiled sweets, which may be easy to manufacture, but do not add real value or interest to the category, and do not meet the needs of the family or the retailer."

First off the Red Band production line are seven lines - Juicy in berry and exotic combinations, which are high in fruit juice and contain 30% less sugar; Light wine gums with 55% less sugar; calcium-enriched strawberry and chocolate milkshakes; as well as two sugar-free gums in mint and strawberry flavours. All the new products flag up their key benefits on the front of pack.

A £1m support campaign is set to include TV advertising in January and June next year, as well as ads in retailer magazines, sampling and retailer-specific activity, such as three-for-two and multibuys, while an on-pack offer is scheduled for summer 2007.

Camp said that there were further lines waiting in the wings for a roll-out over the next two years.

"Go ahead!'s fortunes have shown that you can't stand still," Camp said. "You've got to be constantly evolving."