Invest Northern Ireland has pledged business development and marketing support to bakeries that explore export opportunities in confectionery goods, such as cakes, biscuits and buns.

A new market report, commissioned by Invest Northern Ireland, has pinpointed opportunities for smaller bakeries in Britain and Ireland due to growing demand for indulgent, premium products.

The report’s findings were revealed to bakeries attending special workshops last week in Belfast, Dungannon and Maghera.

The rich heritage of local craft bakery products, not readily available in other parts of the British Isles, is an important advantage for Northern Irish bakers, said the report. Tradition and provenance, the small size of craft bakeries in Northern Ireland means they are "nimble and quick to respond" to market opportunities, it said. However, challenges faced by the industry include a reliance on short shelf-life products.

Some of the bakeries, the report points out, are already supplying multiple retailers, including Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda, in Northern Ireland and should explore own-label opportunities by working towards BRC accreditation.