New Covent Garden Food Company is venturing into the ready meal category for the first time with Sprout - a new range of chilled vegetarian dishes.

Available in Red Pepper & Spinach Open Ravioli, Root Vegetable & Bean Cassoulet with Cheesy Cobblers and Three Bean Tostada variants, New Covent Garden said it decided to enter the meat-free ready meal category because the current offerings were blighted by a “lack of innovation and not enough promotional support.”

Andrew Ovens, NCG marketing manager, claimed the Sprout range would plug a gap in the category and would target consumers seeking to reduce their level of meat consumption.

“Unlike most existing products, Sprout celebrates vegetarian cuisine rather than mimicking carnivore foods,” said Ovens. “The launch comes at a time when many people with an interest in food are incorporating meat-free meals into their diet, without necessarily moving towards vegetarianism.”

Ovens said Sprout brought “genuine innovation” to the category and would create “a destination shop via focused promotional activity.”

The Sprout range is available now on Waitrose shelves with an rsp of £2.99.