Food NI member Dale Farm, Northern Ireland’s largest dairy business, increased pre-tax profits of £12 million in the year to the end of March, a 19 percent jump on the previous year.
The company, headquartered in Belfast and with processing operations in Ballymena and Cookstown as well as England and Scotland,also reported record turnover – of £509 million – and return on investment of 15.8 percent.
The group, which processes milk into butter, yoghurt, cheese and a host of other products, also said it paid the highest price of all milk buyers in Northern Ireland.
A stronger global milk market helped, and Nick Whelan, chief executive of Dale Farm, said a positive culture within the business has also been behind the performance.
He said: “Our consistent profitable growth is the result of our people working together on an ambitious strategy in a culture of continuous improvement, a focus on product and process innovation and building partnerships with major customers across the UK, EU and beyond”.
Meanwhile, Dale Farm has invested over £30 million into the business over the last four years.
He added: “We continually assess and reinvest into every step of the production process to increase our operating efficiencies and in doing so, have achieved a return on capital well above the industry average. Our cooperative ethos is underpinned by a long-term vision to support dairy farming across Northern Ireland and Great Britain and that will remain the driving force behind our development going forward. The number farmer members and suppliers has also grown”.
He said: “Success for Dale Farm means success for every dairy farmer within our membership as we look to strengthen our balance sheet, while at the same time paying the best milk price possible. This ethos has attracted a significant number of new members and suppliers over the past financial year with growth of over seven percent in our milk pool”.