RUSTLERS, the microwaveable snack brand owned by Kepak, has become a bigger seller than Mars bars or PG Tips in Britain, according to industry bible 'The Grocer'.
The website's newly published list of the top 100 UK supermarket brands records Rustlers rising up to 89th place, from 98th in 2018.
Rustlers is the sole Irish-made product climbing the British top 100 list. The only other product with an Irish link, Kerry Group's Richmond Sausages - produced exclusively for the UK market - has fallen five spots to 77th place as part of what 'The Grocer' called "a years-long slide".
Rustlers' ascent of the UK brand popularity table reflects a 9.7pc increase in British sales last year to £101.1m (€113.6m).
That performance has the brand nipping at the heels of Hellmann's mayonnaise, Yorkshire Tea, Dolmio pasta sauces and M&Ms.
Cadbury chocolate retains the top spot, followed by Coca-Cola beverages, Nestlé cereals and sweets, and Walkers crisps. Food manufacturer Heinz has lost the fifth spot to Warburtons baked goods.
'The Grocer' said the convenience foods division of Clonee, Co Meath-based Kepak sold an additional 7.5 million units of Rustler brand snacks last year in a sign that the firm is "continuing to correctly gauge the needs of time-poor shoppers".
"Rustlers ran heavyweight campaigns, pushing its snacks as ideal not only for lunch but also breakfast," it said.
'The Grocer' credited several recent product launches with driving sales, including Kepak's All-Day Breakfast Sausage Muffin; a new Cook-in-Box format for muffins and cheeseburgers; and its first burger for vegetarians, a Moroccan-themed sandwich with chickpeas, grated carrot and coriander.
Adrian Lawlor, marketing and business development director at Kepak Convenience Foods, said the Rustlers brand accounts for three-quarters of the division's sales across Ireland and the UK.
He said Rustlers products sold in Britain are made both in Dublin and a factory in Kirkham, England - between Preston and Blackpool - using both Irish and British meats.
Mr Lawlor said Rustlers' approximately 15 brands all had experienced at least a 10pc surge in sales this month as part of shoppers' stockpiling amid the Covid-19 crisis.
Kepak traces its origins to a butcher's shop on Francis Street in Dublin founded in 1966 by Noel Keating.
Today it operates three divisions - meats, frozen goods and convenience foods - and employs more than 5,000 people, working with 28,000 farms in 43 countries.
Kepak launched the Rustlers brand in 1999. Its other brands include Big Al's and Feasters.