Walkers is to make its debut in the growing popped snacks market with a range that it claims offers “full-on taste” with half the fat of standard crisps.

Rolling out next month, Walkers Pops will be available in Original, Sour Cream & Onion, Melted Cheese & Crispy Bacon, and Prawn Cocktail flavours in multipacks of six 19g bags (rsp: £1.99). Original and Melted Cheese & Crispy Bacon will also be sold in 23g singles (rsp: 63p).

Walkers owner PepsiCo has invested in new kit at its plant in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, to produce the snacks, which are made using high-pressure cooking rather than frying or baking.

The popped chips are made from micro pellets of potato and rice flour coated with oil and seasoning before being compressed under high temperature and pressure. This causes them to melt, fuse and pop to create the chip.

PepsiCo already sells similar products under the Lay’s brand in the US, and launched them as Lay’s Pops in the Netherlands a year ago.

The UK launch will be supported with TV advertising starting in March, alongside in-store activity including sampling.

Popped snacks have grown in popularity since US brand Popchips made its UK debut in May 2012. Boosted by marketing fronted by pop star Katy Perry, sales of the brand rose 247% last year to £4.6m [Nielsen 18 October 2013].

Kellogg’s rolled out its own popped snacks later in 2012, pitching Special K Cracker Crisps as a “game-changing” launch following the success of a similar range in the US. Sales of the UK products grew to £13.7m in just over a year on shelf [Nielsen].

Retailers have also been swift to embrace the pop chip trend, with businesses including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer rolling out own-label lines of popped snacks.