Pilgrims Choice is launching a new Xtreme Cheddar as part of plans to modernise the brand and "blow the socks off" consumers.

The 15 to 18-month matured Cheddar, which will be sold in black packs with a 'For Adults Only' warning, goes on sale this month. It would appeal to consumers looking for a Cheddar with a strong taste profile, said Alastair Jackson, CEO of brand owner North Downs Dairy.

"There is a gap in the market for products for flavour freaks," he said. "Xtreme really delivers and will blow their socks off. We don't think there's any other brand delivering that."

Pilgrims Choice is also dropping its Farmhouse Mature line in favour of a new Farmhouse Vintage.

The 100,000-tonne mature market had got fiercely competitive, so switching to a vintage variant that had been matured for 14 months rather than the nine months for mature would give it a better point of difference, said Jackson.

The new variant will compete with rivals such as Cathedral City Vintage 20 at the extra-mature end of the Cheddar market.

New packaging is being introduced across the Pilgrims Choice range, with a new logo and simpler look for easier differentiation. The brand name will be split into two lines, while the image of head cheese grader Kevin Beer is also included on-pack.

"Our strength is at the top end of the market and we are putting a personality with that," said Jackson. "We have to do something different from what the likes of Cathedral City, Seriously Strong and Wyke Farms are doing."

The range revamp will be promoted using sampling activity, a new website, promotions and on-pack activity, with a major advertising push slated for late 2010 through to 2011.

The company says a new, yet-to-be-announced product will be launched next year that will tap into consumers' health concerns as well as addressing the FSA's fat-reduction targets.

Pilgrims Choice is also lead sponsor for June's National Cheese Awards.