Bangor firm takes the biscuit with major Japanese orders
AS Japan's premier Shinzo Abe jets in to Northern Ireland for the G8, a shamrock-shaped shortbread from Co Down is growing in popularity back home.
Grace's Traditional Irish Biscuits, which was set up in 2004 in Bangor, has won orders from retailer Otomo Shoji for its shortbread and oatmeal biscuits after an internet inquiry from managing director Naoko Yamaguchi.
Grace's managing director William Bullock said: "Naoko was searching for traditional Irish biscuits to add to their portfolio of quality UK brands and was intrigued in particular by our distinctive shamrock shape of premium shortbread and oatmeal products.
"Following the initial order, repeat business has followed because of the success of the biscuits with Japanese consumers.
"It's tremendously encouraging for us to see our products on the shelves in a leading Japanese retailer."
The family-owned business, which is based in Osaka, has around 100 stores in Japan.
Mr Bullock said his company had focused on building sales in global markets, which is turn had given a boost to other Northern Ireland companies who work to develop and ship the biscuits.
He said the company had benefited from the advice of Invest NI and had been able to meet buyers at events organised by Invest NI.
The biscuits are now sold in the US, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as in the UK and Republic.