Pukka-Pies is about to make the nation's lads very happy it is launching what it claims is the market's only frozen pie range tailor-made for the microwave.

The Leicester-based company described The 3½ Minute pies so named because of the time they take to heat as "the holy grail" of pie manufacturing and predicted they would hit £10m sales in 18 months.

Sold two to a box in either chicken or steak, the pies are available in 600 Tescos now and will roll out to other multiples next month (rsp: £2.39) .

The launch marked "genuine innovation" for the pie category, said Pukka marketing controller Peter Mayes. Whereas normal shortcrust pastry pies became soft after being heated in a microwave, the packaging of The 3½ Minute pies featured 'susceptor technology' special laminated card that enabled the pastry to be cooked to a crusty oven-baked texture, he said. The pastry recipe had also been adapted.

"Prepration speed has traditionally been a challenge for the pie market. This is a proper Pukka-Pie, but in a hurry," he said. "We will position it as a snack rather than main meal and the target audience is 16 to 35-year-old males."

Rising consumer awareness would be key, he added. "The real issue for us is making people aware that these pies are there in the freezers but we are aiming to run some advertising hopefully TV post-Christmas," he said.

Last September, Young's launched the first microwaveable frozen fish fingers, which also used susceptor technology to produce a crispy rather than soggy texture.