A microwaveable popcorn brand from the US is to explode on to the UK snacking market.

The Orville Redenbacher brand - named after a popcorn pioneer - has been in the US for about 40 years and already has listings in Morrisons and with the Co-operative Group.

Its launch marks the first move in an international expansion strategy by producer ConAgra, the third-largest food company in the US. The company already has a 65% share of the US microwaveable popcorn market with this and the Act II brands.

Microwaveable popcorn only accounts for 0.2% of the UK salty snacks market but Ian Troop, president of the company's International Foods group sees a huge opportunity: "In more mature markets, 10% of the salty snack market is popcorn. The UK market could be worth well over $250m (£144m) if it captured the same ratio as the US."

Three flavours are spearheading the launch - Honey Butter, Sweet Salty and Movie Theatre Butter. Troop said the trio were "a base set of SKUs to attract consumers to the brand" but the company's flavour portfolio also covers savoury options, such as cheese and jalapeno, and other sweet varieties, including vanilla, cinnamon and caramel.

According to Troop, high levels of microwave ownership, time-poor consumers and family entertainment based around sport, TV and films made the UK an ideal market for the products.

"Consumers like making popcorn at home; it's hot and fresh and it conjures up the cinema experience," he added. "Children like watching the packs expand in the microwave."

The company has earmarked a £5m budget to back the range this year. The bulk of this will go on sampling of the freshly cooked product, but TV ads are promised when listings take off.