UNILEVER SUBSIDIARY Van den Bergh Foods is to launch a new £10m product range that could create a whole new impulse-purchase retail sector ... hot drinks in cans. The product range will be displayed in cabinets heated to 56°F - an acceptable temperature for drinking - and sell via newsagents, corner shops and petrol forecourts. Flavours include PG Tips tea (with and without sugar), Red Mountain coffee (with milk/sweetening options) and the unfortunately-named Choky - a leading French hot chocolate brand, recently acquired by Unilever. The project, which goes into trial in Manchester early next year, could reach volumes of 400m cans annually when available nationally, creating a market with a value of £240m a year. Says John Coombs, VdBF marketing director: 'If we achieve only half the level of sales all our volume projections are saying, we’ve still got a financially viable business.' [The heated display cabinets are presumably VdBF’s property, effectively freezing-out potential competitors - in similar mode to sister-brand Wall’s Ice Cream.]
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