Pilgrims Choice is about to go head-to-head with Dairy Crest and Milk Link in the reduced-fat Cheddar market with the launch of two lighter variants, The Grocer can exclusively reveal.

The brand will launch Pilgrims Choice Mature Lighter in the new year, to be followed by an Extra Mature Lighter variant in the summer. Both cheeses will have 30% less fat than standard Cheddars.

The move means that the brand currently the third-biggest Cheddar brand by value behind market leader Cathedral City and Seriously [Nielsen 52w/e 2 October 2010] will have a lighter Cheddar offer to rival Dairy Crest's established Cathedral City Mature Lighter brand.

The company will also be able to offer an alternative to Milk Link's I Can't Believe It's Not Cheddar, which will also hit shelves in the new year. ICBINC will contain 22.6g fat per 100g of cheese, while Cathedral City Lighter has 21.8g fat per 100g of cheese.

Pilgrims Choice had spent the past few years monitoring the lighter cheese market, said Hannah Jenkins, marketing controller for Pilgrims Choice. As a sector, lighter was now showing "phenomenal growth" and Pilgrims Choice wanted to be part of that, she added.

Although Cathedral City's lighter variant was well established, having launched in February 2007, and was currently worth £32m in sales [Kantar 52w/e 3 October 2010], Pilgrims Choice believed there was room for additional lighter variants, said Jenkins.

Its "established footprint" in the market would also give it an edge over ICBINC, she added. "The taste and quality cues Pilgrims Choice has as a brand give the lighter products the strength to survive in the category."

Pilgrims Choice has already secured listings for Mature Lighter but would not reveal with which retailers. The light Cheddar market has grown 59.6% to £208m and 68.8% by volume in the past year [Nielsen MAT 2 October 2010].