EXCLUSIVE Simon Mowbray Unilever Bestfoods is preparing to launch a huge investment programme behind Knorr, vowing to turn it into a £200m UK powerbrand' by 2005. It plans to blitz consumers with a new range of must-have products, turning the stalwart dried soup and stock cube brand into a burgeoning range which could eventually include complete ready meals. It also intends to throw a mighty £20m marketing programme behind the brand over the next 12 months ­ more than six times the current annual investment ­ and possibly raise it to £30m during the following year. The 163-year-old brand, which Unilever inherited from its merger with Bestfoods in January last year, already has a global value of around £1.8bn but in the UK is only worth a modest £60m. However, Unilever plans to change that with a new line-up of products set to hit UK shelves at the start of next month. Leading the assault will be a new boxed ambient soup called Vie and a new recipe sauce for Chinese cooking called Chinatown. Chicken Tonight and Colman's Simply Sausages will also be put under the Knorr banner. Peter Lloyd, category controller at Unilever Bestfoods UK, said: "Knorr is a major global food brand and one of the primary reasons that Unilever acquired Bestfoods." l See p36. {{NEWS }}