The US juice brand Welch's is expanding its presence in the UK with a double-pronged entry into the increasingly competitive smoothie category.

The company said yesterday (6 October) that purple grape & banana and purple grape & wild berry will be launched in the country in the coming weeks.

Established in the US in 1869 in Vineland, New Jersey by Thomas Bramwell Welch, the company introduced its classic 100% purple grape juice brand into the UK in 1998 via distributors Gerber Juice.

Welch's juices, made from Concord and Niagara grapes, are high in antioxidants, the theme of this year's TV advertising which uses contortionists to demonstrate that purple grape juice has twice the antioxidant power of orange juice. Part of a support package worth in the region of GBP1m (US$1.7m), the same advert has been tweaked and is being aired in the UK from now until the end of October to accompany the smoothie launch.

"We're delighted that the Welch's name and product range continues to grow in the UK," said Paul Nicholls, marketing director of Gerber Juice. "This latest launch is new territory for us but we're confident that the unique flavours we're offering will see us thrive into 2009 and beyond."