Irwin's using its loaf to create best breads
With January 'breakfast month' in the 2016 Year of Food, Irwin's explains how it's responding to Northern Ireland's changing tastes
Bread remains a staple of Northern Ireland's breakfast tables despite other trends and fads, it's been claimed.
Irwin's Bakery said bread and bakery items accounted for 40% of the breakfast market.
But the Craigavon company, which employs around 355 people, said it still had to respond to changing customer tastes.
It has launched two new varieties of its Softee range of extra-thick pans, Softee Wholegrain and Softee Brown and White.
Irwin's said there was demand for variety in pan bread. And research by the British Journal of Nutrition had also shown that 80% of consumers were not eating the daily recommended intake of wholegrains.
Marketing manager Colette Wilson said: "Irwin's is committed to growing its range through new product development and innovation - and we are always looking for ways to create new products consumers will love and buy. Our new Softee Brown and White and Softee Wholegrain loaves are made with the same quality ingredients as the original Softee, but they offer shoppers an alternative to white bread, while maintaining the texture which has made Softee so popular."
Irwin's said the 'breakfast on the move' market was also growing, with a 10% growth in muffin sales, according to research in November by AC Nielsen. Irwin's wsaid its muffin products were the most popular in the market.
But Nutty Krust, its best-known brand, retained a big hold and had enjoyed 34% volume growth year on year.
Ms Wilson added: "The Year of Food is going to be a great way to celebrate so many more Northern Ireland brands and products like Nutty Krust and our strong heritage of bread-baking.
"We look forward to the months ahead."
Irwin's launched its original Irwin's Softee loaf in 2009.
The company dates back to 1912, when WD Irwin and his wife Ruth opened a small bakery in Portadown. The business grew over the next 20 years, and in 1932 it began deliveries around the area using a horse and cart.
It launched Nutty Krust in 1961 and finally outgrew its original premises in 1995, when it moved to a new plant and bakery in Carne outside the town.