The west Cork milk processor and producer of value-added ingredients, flavours and cheese – Carbery Group – has reported good results for the year ending December 31, 2016 with earnings of €37m.

EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), rose by 4.8% to €37m, up from €35.3m the previous year. Turnover for 2016 reduced to €340m – from €349.5m the previous year.

The group recorded EBITA (operating profit before interest, tax, amortisation and exceptional items) of €27.1m (€25.5m in 2015), which gives a year-on-year rise of 6%. On a constant currency basis, year-on-year EBITA rose by 9% .

The CEO of the Carbery Group, Dan MacSweeney, said that the group’s results were achieved in spite of poor dairy prices globally.

During the year, we prioritised the need to support milk prices for our dairy farmers and, once again, Carbery paid industry-leading milk prices.

He added: “This was possible due to the underlying strong performances from our Ireland-based dairy and nutrition divisions and our international division, Synergy, which continued to grow its customer base in overseas markets”.

Continuing on course with the group’s growth strategy, the Carbery Group invested €15.4m in its dairy and ingredients departments during 2016, increasing the total investment made by the company since 2011 to €78.2m.

The company’s net debt was reduced by €1.6m in 2016 to the current €26.2m figure.

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Carbery’s dairy business in Ireland recorded good margins and expansion in both its ingredients and cheese divisions, in spite of lower prices for cheese during the year. The volume of milk processed at Ballineen in 2016 was up 4.4% to 470 million litres.

Carbery’s ingredients division has developed new business in high-value fields such as infant nutrition and clinical nutrition.

Carbery launched its third Fixed Milk Price scheme for milk suppliers in December 2016. The three-year-long scheme aims to assist farmers with dairy market volatility.

Carbery Group’s international flavour and natural extracts division, Synergy, has recorded good growth in its main customer markets of the UK, Europe, the USA, South America and south-east Asia.

MacSweeney, regarding 2016 performance, said that while dairy markets proved difficult early in the year due to increased European milk supply, the reduction in supply later in the year had a positive effect on price.

This trend continued into 2017. However, market pricing for the second half of this year is still a challenge due to the current weakness in dairy markets in the last month or so.

The outlook for the Carbery Group business is reportedly positive for 2017, given its “strong and dynamic dairy, ingredients and flavours business divisions”.

MacSweeney concluded: “In the medium term, Brexit presents a significant challenge to many businesses in the food industry in Ireland, and Carbery is not immune to this challenge. We are currently evaluating all potential scenarios with a view to limiting the impact of the Brexit process on our shareholders and milk suppliers.”