Innocent is keeping a lid on its NPD plans but The Grocer understands it is working on a "completely new" posh Pot Noodle-style product to launch in September.
Ladbroke Grove-based Innocent, which branched out from drinks into food with its Veg Pots launch in 2008, is understood to be planning a September roll-out for a "hot", "salad-based" "fast-food snack" that requires the user to "just add hot water", sources close to Innocent said.
Rumours of the NPD follow the promotion of Veg Pots commercial director Paul Brown in February this year to oversee development of all the brand's future food launches in the role of commercial director for food. At that time, Brown told The Grocer: "Innocent's food offering will look significantly different by the year's end."
Samworth Brothers business Saladworks, which produces ready meals for four major UK retailers, is understood to be developing the product.
Premium Pot Noodle-style dishes are not unheard of in the UK. In 2009, Marks & Spencer unveiled a range of potted noodle snacks in flavours such as Thai prawn and chicken miso (rsp: £3.50) that required the consumer to add boiling water. And this January, former Pieminister sales director Crispin Busk launched his freeze-dried Kabuto Noodles range (rsp: £3). Even Pot Noodle went a little more upmarket last year with the launch of meaty Pot Noodle GTi snacks, helping sales of the brand grow 7.5% year-on-year to £86.1m [Nielsen 52w/e 26 December 2010].
Innocent founder Richard Reed was unwilling to comment on "rumours".
He said: "We can say that we'll be introducing more recipes to our Veg Pot range, as well as continuing to look at new ways to help get natural, delicious, healthy food into people."
Saladworks declined to comment.
Following the successful relaunch of its orange and apple fruit juices in carafe-style bottles in February, Innocent is now launching 330ml 'carafettes' (rsp: £1.09), designed for the impulse market.
Innocent founder Balon walks into private equity role (18 March 2011)
Saturday Essay: Base NPD on real consumers and real needs (26 February 2011)