Diageo has forked deeper into the food market with the introduction of Guinness whole grain bread.

The drinks giant has linked up with Irwin's bakery to manufacture the product at the Irish bread maker's Portadown bakery.

"We hope Guinness bread will pave the way for further development of food products for the brand," a Diageo spokesperson told just-drinks.

The bread has a 17% Guinness content, giving it a dark appearance and malty taste, but is non-alcoholic.

"We are very proud of this fantastic product and see it as a great addition to the Guinness portfolio," said David Berry, licencing director of Diageo Europe.  "We have been keen for some time to harness the qualities and taste of Guinness into suitable food products for the commercial retail market."

The product has secured key listings with major retailers such as Tesco in the UK and Ireland.

"We are delighted to confirm this new partnership which links our own strong brand with undoubtedly one of the biggest and best loved in the world," said Michael Murphy, Irwin's business development controller.

In October, Guinness revealed plans to launch a Guinness Red variety into the UK on-trade, and has tested a mid-strength Guinness and two limited-edition versions under the Guinness Brewhouse Series in Ireland.

Despite growing sales in Africa and the US, volumes in the UK were down 1% for the year to 30 June 2006, while in Ireland they slumped 8%.

Diageo was unable to divulge more recent sales data today (10 January), as the company has entered a closed period ahead of its interim results announcement on 15 February.