Northern Ireland bakery Irwin’s has broken new commercial ground by securing contracts to supply its Nutty Krust batch bread to retailers in the Irish Republic.

The bread went on sale in Tesco Ireland at the beginning of June and will be on the shelves of the Musgrave Group and Dunnes Stores towards the end of June and early July.

The County Armagh-based company said the separate deals represent a combined 300,000 additional Nutty Krust loaves each year, at a potential retail value of £400,000.

Launched more than 40 years ago, this is the first time Nutty Krust will be available outside Northern Ireland. It was voted ’Product of the Year’ by Tesco NI customers in 2002 and 2007.

Irwin’s launched three new Nutty Krust varieties earlier this year: Nutty Krust Sunflower and Pumpkin Seed, Malted Grain and Half Loaf - the traditional loaf in a half-size pack. Tesco Ireland and Dunnes will list all three, while the Musgrave Group will stock the Sunflower and Pumpkin Seed and Malted Grain versions. The company said slow baking on the sole of the oven gives the loaf its nutty crust and soft centre and, from mixing to slicing, the whole baking process takes six hours.

Brendan Lappin, Irwin’s business development manager, said: "These new listings represent an enormous boost to our Irish business and we are delighted that our retail customers are extending their business with us to help bring Nutty Krust to this important market for the first time."

He added: "A key strand of Irwin’s growth and sustainability strategy as an indigenous, family-owned operation has been to use our product innovation and supply chain capabilities to create real export strength, delivering new products to new markets at the right time."

Irwin’s already distributes a number of key product lines to multiples and independents in the Irish Republic, including its award-winning Irish breads range, which it makes in conjunction with celebrity chef Paul Rankin, as well as its branded items such as muffins and Low GI White Rolls.