Sacla' is making its first move outside the ambient grocery aisles, with the launch of three premium pasta sauces into chiller cabinets next month.

It is unlikely to be Sacla's last foray into untried arenas. Sales director Neil Arthey said the decision was part of a wider strategy to stretch the brand into new categories and attract new consumers, and hinted that further products could be launched. "The time is right for the Sacla' brand to move out of its ambient homeland, and chilled sauces was the most pertinent category to start with."

The new products are a Pesto Alla Genovese (150g), which the company describes as having a more vibrant colour and intense flavour than its jarred equivalent, and two stir-through sauces - tomato, olive & basil and roasted red pepper with tomato & Parmesan (170g). Each will sell at a premium of £2.49 compared with a price of about £1.58 for the ambient lines. Waitrose is the launch retailer.

Arthey said the products would add new life to the chilled sauces category, which he described as lacking in depth and variety. "There is demand for more premium products but there is a gap in the market for branded sauces. There are brands such as New Covent Garden, but it has a limited range," he added.

TNS reports that the market for chilled pasta sauces grew by 10% in value to £44m [52 w/e 13 August 2006], ahead of ambient growth of 3%. It said more shoppers were switching to chilled sauces because they perceived them to be healthier and more convenient. Fresh pasta is up 9% in value while the dried pasta category grew just 2%.

According to Sacla', more than half of chilled pasta buyers don't buy a chilled sauce to accompany it, which presents a big opportunity for the new entrants.

"We hope that our branded presence in the category will bring in new consumers," said Arthey. "We have strong brand loyalty for our ambient pesto and we want to see that in chilled. A lot of development has been retailer-led but the category's potential is not being maximised by own label."