Dairygold Co-Operative Society Limited has reported operating profits of €27.2m on core activities for 2014, in its latest results.

The country’s largest farmer-owned dairy processor, announced that turnover reached €848m, marginally up on the 2013, despite the significant decline in international dairy market returns. The results are in line with the previous year’s record financial performance and continue the Society’s trend of achieving strong operating profits, while paying a leading milk price, it said.

Dairygold’s earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) on core activities rose by €1.8m to €47.2m.

The Society invested a total of €50.1m in the business in 2014, while maintaining net bank debt at a prudent level, rising modestly from €60.9m to €71.6m. The underlying strength of the 2014 performance is reflected in the net debt to EBIDTA ratio, which despite the continued substantial capital investment, has marginally increased to 1.5:1 from 1.3:1 in 2013.

Dairygold processes almost 20% of the Irish milk pool and last year processed its highest ever volume of milk of almost 1 billion litres.

It has forecast that its 3,000 milk suppliers will increase output by up to a 60% in post quota milk production output by 2020.This will result in Dairygold processing an extra half a billion litres of milk annually by 2020.

Speaking about the 2014 performance, Dairygold Chief Executive Jim Woulfe said Dairygold achieved its strong financial performance by optimising its diversified product portfolio to track the best market returns available and delivering processing and operating efficiencies following the continued investment in Capital and Continuous Improvement.

“The 2014 performance was noteworthy, particularly considering that it was achieved against a backdrop of an almost 50% fall in dairy market returns between February and year-end. In addition to supporting milk price beyond market returns and investing significant resources in farm development programmes and assisting suppliers with on-farm planning for post-quota expansion”, added Woulfe.