McDougalls and The Great Australian Pie Company have chosen the summer as the unlikely season to launch new pastry ranges.

In a bid to crack the summer light meal market, Northern Foods has brought out McDougalls Upper Crust Savoury Tarts, the first new frozen pie range from the brand since it was bought last year.

Until now, the summer market has been dominated by quiches and lacked hot savoury pastry lines, said Steve Manning, head of commercial. There was a major opportunity in frozen given that quiches and tarts accounted for 17.4% of the chilled category but only 3.3% of frozen, he added.

"Frozen savoury pastry inherently dips in the summer as it doesn't cater for lighter eating," he said. "These tarts capitalise on this gap by offering something new."

The four-strong range, in chicken & grilled pepper, mature Cheddar & pan-fried onion, chicken & mushroom and asparagus & smoked ham, hits shelves ahead of a September relaunch of the brand's frozen savoury pastry portfolio with new products and packaging.

Northern Foods is investing £3m in a press campaign targeting men using the strapline 'Real men don't eat quiche' to promote the range, which is rolling out now in the big four.

The Great Australian Pie Company, meanwhile, has launched an eight-strong range of premium chilled pies. The range features traditional Australian recipes including mince & cheese and The Shearer lamb pie, and its launch follows two years of exposure at UK sports and music events.

"We've built up a passionate fan base at sports venues and festivals, recording average sales of £450,000," said director Steve Hamer, who forecast a £400,000 boost to sales this year.