Irish bakery products had another strong export performance in 2010, particularly in the latter half of the year.

New product development and added value drove sales, according to the Bord Bía (Irish Food Board) Export Performance and Prospects 2010-2011. The UK took 80% of bakery exports, mainly comprising muffins and par-baked breads.

"Other European export markets included Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Germany. Products supplied to these markets included cakes, apple tarts and individual confectionery treats," said Orla Donoghue, sector manager, consumer foods division with responsibility for bakery at Bord Bía.

The report stated that bakeries reacted well to changing consumer behaviour. Health, convenience, and value for money were key drivers of innovation, as well as targeting products for specific markets. Some smaller bakeries expanded into Continental Europe albeit from a very small base.

"Bord Bía’s Fellowship Programme (which places experienced graduates in export markets to work on specific assignments for companies) has assisted some of the smaller companies to gain access to new markets. Bord Bía has also embarked on a new initiative to help bakery companies increase export sales," Donoghue told British Baker.

Improved efficiencies by Irish manufacturers left them in a better position to compete in 2011. Volatility in sterling was still a concern, though not as much as previously. Ingredients cost rises in the latter half of 2010 will continue into 2011 and supplies of some, especially sugar, are very tight, which may impact on production of some products, the report concluded.