Warburtons has insisted that its surprise entry into the snacking market, announced last week, would not distract it from its core bakery product development.

The firm will launch two new ranges with a healthy eating USP in March: ChippidyDooDaa Pitta Chips, which are twice-baked and come in four flavours and two pack sizes; and SnackaDoodle Wholegrain Snacks, made of 70% wholegrains, sold in 20g bags and a six-pack multipack.

"While bakery has fantastic penetration and is what we are truly focused around, this will introduce us to new eating occasions and new consumers, and broaden the appeal of the brand," said commercial director Roz Cuschieri. "Our muffin and sliced product launches this year are performing beyond even our own expectations, and we’ll have another raft of bakery NPD at the end of spring into summer."

A separate snacks team has been created, headed by new business director John Uttley, and follows a £2m investment in machinery, unrelated to the announced £25m revamp of its Bolton bakery.

Uttley said the entry into snacks was part of a long-term project. "We haven’t set ourselves any targets in the first year," he said. "It’s about learning how the consumer will react to the products and making sure we’ve got things absolutely right.

"Consumers’ initial response to it has been one of surprise. But they are not daft. It is a baked product, it’s a pitta so why not? We have a lot of confidence in the product and we see ourselves in it for the long term."