A subsidiary of the £186.4 million French group Danone, Jacob's has launched rice and potato crackers - Fusions - under its Thai Bites brand onto the UK market.
"These product launches represent a huge step for Thai Bites, moving them into more eating occasions. We are confident we will achieve impressive penetration and sales," said Katia Zavidonova, Thai Bites senior brand manager.
The bite-sized rice and potato crackers made with Thai ingredients are available in three flavours - roasted chilli and sour cream, sesame and prawn, and red curry and coriander.
The market for emerging cuisines such as Thai is growing strongly, backed by an increasing interest in ethnic foods, the development of ethnic restaurants, more long-haul travel, and the popularity of ready meals.
A recent report from market analysts Mintel valued the emerging ethnic food market at £115 million in 2002, and revealed that Thai food is the fastest growing, worth an estimated £62 million in 2003.
"Much of this growth is from a low base but all of these cuisines together are worth less than a quarter of the value of the Indian food market," states the report.
And a survey carried out for the Mintel report found that 11 per cent of respondents had eaten a Thai meal at home in the three months previous to the survey, while 8 per cent ate other ethnic meals.
Some 16 per cent of respondents in the 35-44 age group said they had eaten a Thai meal at home compared with an average of 11 per cent, making this group the most likely to have a Thai meal at home.
At the same time as Fusions, Jacob's also launched a Thai Bites dip pack containing rice crackers and Amoy sweet chilli sauce.
More food makers pushing Thai ingredients-based products out onto the shelves recently include a Phad Thai wok sauce from Santa Maria that contains fish sauce, chilli pepper, soy and paprika.
On the snack front Nissin Foods has introduced cup noodles - Cup Nudeln - in a Thai style Tom Yum and the Smiths Food Group has launched, under the Lay's Brand, the Sensations Premium Potato Chips range, comprising three new flavours including Thai Sweet Chilli formulated from Thai sweet chilli flavour, flavour enhancer (monosodium glutamate), disodium 5'-ribonucleotide, sweetener (aspartame), colourant (paprika extract) and hydrolysed soya proteins.
In a separate announcement today, Danone said that it was negotiating the sale of Jacob's to Britain's United Biscuits for an undisclosed sum.