Dairy company Dale Farm Co-operative has reported a ‘solid’ set of financial results for the year ending March 2017, with group operating profit up 9% to £9.8m.
Profit before tax for the group, which is headquartered in Belfast, rose 16% from £6.8m to £7.9m, and overall group turnover grew by 5.1% to £389m.
And the company, which has bases across the UK, reported “a positive cash flow” with net debt down from £66.6m to £64.4m.
Group chief executive Nick Whelan said: “For the second year running, Dale Farm has delivered a solid financial performance, despite it having been a year of two halves.
“We witnessed a 12% increase in consumer sales, driven by innovation in product development across our dairy portfolio of butter, ice cream, cheddar cheese, liquid milk, yoghurt and fresh desserts.
“The recovery in global dairy markets in the second half of the year, combined with Dale Farm’s significant cost reduction plan, enabled us to pay a leading milk price to our farmer members in Northern Ireland and across Great Britain.”
Mr Whelan said Dale Farm’s strategy to grow its presence as a supplier into the sports nutrition market had also paid off.
“A strategic focus for our business is the development of whey solutions, allowing us to respond to the growing domestic and international trend in protein-based products,” he added.
The group said its feed business, United Feeds, had delivered a “satisfactory performance” despite a challenging environment for farmers throughout the year.
Mr Whelan added: “We will continue to evaluate the considerable opportunities and threats that Brexit will present over the months ahead. Our model presents us with much room for growth, as we remain focused on ongoing innovation and maximising new routes to market.
“Our overarching aim, however, is to continue to afford a leading milk price to our farmer membership.”
The co-op’s dairy brand portfolio includes Dale Farm, Dromona, Spelga, Mullins, Fivemiletown, Loseley and Rowan Glen.