Baker, already on a roll, tries out low-fat choices

In a nod to the nation's ever-expanding waistlines, Greggs, the high street baker renowned for its doorstep sandwiches and sticky buns, is launching a line of low-fat sausage rolls.

The company, which also owns the Bakers Oven chain, yesterday revealed it is testing our appetite for its stab at healthy eating in 20 stores across the UK.

Sir Mike Darrington, the managing director who eats at least one (full-fat) sausage roll every day, said the group would trial two lighter versions: one with 10 per cent less fat, and a more radical version with 30 per cent less fat. He estimated the normal fat content of a sausage roll at "about 20 grammes".

Sir Mike, who was knighted last year - for services to business in the North-east, rather than our stomachs - defended the traditional puff pastry variety, which has 240 calories, as "gorgeous, not evil", adding: "They are jolly good products."

After last year's baking temperatures temporarily put people off eating hot, greasy sausage rolls, Sir Mike said demand had returned, with sausage roll sales during its first half up 18 per cent.

Although the group also announced plans to launch lower-fat options on "a number of our key lines", it was cagey about which other products would get the sausage roll treatment for fear that hungry rivals would steal their ideas.

Details of Greggs' health initiative came as the baker reported a 10.6 per cent jump in interim profits to £13.6m. Like-for-like sales in the seven weeks to 31 July have risen 7.4 per cent.