Food group Kerry has reported group trading profits of €636.4m for the year to the end of December, up 4.1% from the previous year.

Kerry said its revenue for the year dipped by 1.4% to €5.756 billion from €5.836.7 billion as the challenging macro-economic landscape continues and due to the impact of geopolitical issues - especially in developing markets.

The company said that while showing early signs of recovery, increased fragmentation and polarisation in the Irish and UK consumer foods market contributed to increased competitiveness. 

It is recommending a final dividend per share of 31.5 cent, while the total dividend for the year will rise by 12.5% to 45 cent.

Its chief executive Stan McCarthy said the company recorded another year of good growth, with an 8.1% increase in adjusted earning per share in 2014.

He said that the consumer environment across developed and developing markets is changing rapidly but Kerry is well positioned to capitalise on global  growth opportunities and the company expects to achieve another year of good growth this year.

Kerry said that expenditure on research and development increased to €197m last year from €186m in 2013.

The setting up of the Kerry Global Technology and Innovation Centre in Naas is well advanced and is on schedule to be fully operational by the middle of this year.

Shares in the company were down slightly in Dublin trade today.

Revenue in Kerry's Ingredients and Flavours business rose by 3.4% to €4.337 billion for the 12 months of the end of December, while trading profits increased by 6.1% to €593m.

The division accounted for 74% of total group revenue for last year and 83% of group trading profit.

The company said that challenging macro-economic trends and changing consumer shopping habits meant that developed markets overall were relatively weak but provided good scope for innovation in health/wellness and niche growth sectors. 

Revenue at its Consumer Foods division dipped by 0.7% to €1.509 billion while trading profits decreased by 2.6% to €125m against a background of difficult market conditions in the Irish and UK consumer foods markets.

Taking account of current exchange rates and business disposals, Kerry said it expects to achieve 5-8% growth in adjusted earnings per share to a range of 293-301 cent per share this year.