Supermarket sales of Nerf - which is kicking off its biggest-ever UK marketing push - have soared by more than a third this year.

In the week supplier Hasbro started rolling out its latest range of Nerf foam dart blasters, the company said the grocery channel was key to the brand.

Data from toy market analysts NPD showed that grocery sales of Nerf had grown 38% year-on-year in the first half of 2012, while overall Nerf sales had risen 8%. Over the same period, grocery retailers have grown their share of the Nerf market from 23% to 30%.

Supermarket sales have been boosted by the launch of the Nerf Jolt last year. Sold at an average price of £3.64 at the supermarkets, around half the price of the next cheapest Nerf blaster, it has encouraged impulse purchases.

“Grocers have been a big part of the success of Nerf and help to introduce consumers to the brand,” said Nerf senior brand manager Ciara Whyte.

Tesco has displayed clip strips of Jolt blasters in the cereal aisle of 700 stores, and Asda is to do the same in 368 stores from next month.

The latest addition to Nerf is the Elite range, which is rolling out now and currently comprises the Retaliator, Rampage and Stockade (rsp: from £24.99 to £34.99). A fourth blaster, the Hail-Fire, goes on sale on 9 September - the official launch date of Elite. All blasters in the new line-up can fire Nerf darts up to 75ft - twice the range of previous ones.

The brand has teamed up with children’s television channels CITV and Disney XD to support the Elite launch, and has also made a “huge” investment in traditional television advertising that includes the airing of an ad on 8 September on primetime family TV on ITV1.

“This is our biggest marketing investment in Nerf to date,” said Whyte.