An oriental restaurant and retail brand created by Pret A Manger founder Julian Metcalfe is expanding into the booming pot noodles market.

In June, Sainsbury’s will roll out Itsu-branded ambient Three-Minute Noodle Pots in Original Thai and Thai Spicy (vegetarian), with a chicken flavour set to join the line-up later this year. They will be £2 compared with the £1 average that Pot Noodle currently sells for [].

supplier Metcalfe’s Food Co, which rolled out Itsu iced white teas and miso soups this year, said each pot contained 500 calories and was “a substantial meal”. They have a six-month shelf life and will be merchandised on the ambient pot snacks fixture in about 500 Sainsbury’s.

The range would revolutionise the ambient instant noodle market, claimed Metcalfe’s Food Co MD Robert Jakobi. “The quality of these noodle pots is unrivalled,” he said.

While many noodle snacks were dried, Itsu noodles were cooked and shrink-wrapped to preserve freshness, added Jakobi. They are packed with a packet of pre-cooked veg, a sachet of paste and a spork.

The launch is set to drive further growth in the instant pot snacks market, which is up 12.7% to £206.1m on volume up 8.4% [Nielsen 52 w/e 13 October 2013]. The category is currently dominated by Unilever’s Pot Noodle, which has grown 2.8% to £94.7m.

The chilled noodle pot market has seen a flurry of activity this year, with Kepak launching a chilled noodle pot with meat (rsp: £1.99) under its fast-growing Rustlers brand. Innocent is this month rolling out a premium chilled noodle pot range inspired by Asian street food (rsp: £3.79). l Metcalfe’s said its Skinny Topcorn popcorn was boosted when Beyoncé was seen eating it on BBC1 documentary Life is But a Dream.