Marks & Spencer is to launch its first ever range of frozen ready meals.

The new line-up features 30 ready meals for between two and four people. Products will hit the shelves in 500 stores from 30 September. 

All the meals can be cooked straight from frozen, and the range uses vegetables and meats known to cope well with the freezing process, M&S said. Dishes include items such as ’slow cooked chicken and chorizo stew with butterbeans’, ’confit duck with root vegetables and red wine jus’ and ‘pulled pork with potato & kale hash’.

“We’re well known for our ready meals, and we felt that we could do our frozen prepared foods justice in terms of quality,” said a spokesman for M&S.

“We see a significant market opportunity in prepared frozen meals and are very excited by the new range. It’s taken us almost two years to develop and we have used our expertise in prepared meals to bring a new level of quality to frozen meals,” said product developer Claire Richardson.

“Ever busier lifestyles mean that having a prepared meal ‘ready to go’ in the freezer can be a big help for busy families.”

Marks & Spencer said the frozen food market – worth £700m a year in total – presented a significant market opportunity.

“This move was part of the expansion of our food ranges and has nothing to do with other retailers, especially not Iceland. We’re focusing on growing our food ranges and following Steve Rowe’s mantra of ‘more relevant, more often’,” said a spokesman.