Firelighter brand Zip has predicted its sales could explode from £25m to £50m over the next couple of years following its first foray into environmentally-friendly BBQ fuel.

The company claims its new Lumpwood Charcoal and Hardwood Briquettes due to hit shelves next spring will be the first branded ethical and sustainable charcoal. Zip said consumers would find the new products more appealing than current offerings as the charcoal is sourced from sustainable tree plantations and no live trees are felled in its production. Zip has also teamed up with the charity Trees for Life, which plants trees in developing countries.

Unlike the majority of charcoal products currently on the market, the newcomers are chemical-free, easier to light and give barbecued food a better flavour, marketing manager Geoff Wickett claimed.

He said Zip's total sales could double to £50m by 2011 and claimed retailers had failed to grow the £66m barbecue fuel category by offering only low-quality charcoal from non-sustainable sources.

"Barbecue fuels are often used as a loss leader for wine and meat sales... but consumers are tired of inferior products and will pay for better fuels that light easily and deliver a better cooking experience," he said. "Expectations have moved on but the marketplace hasn't kept up."

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