Dairy company Ornua has reported a strong trading performance for 2016 with higher earnings and turnover.

Ornua said its operating profit jumped by 56% to €26.6m, while its turnover for the year to the end of December rose by 9% to €1.749 billion. 

Sales of Kerrygold - its showcase product - hit €900m globally with volume growth of 20% in the US market.

During the year, the company successfully launched Kerrygold Yogurts in Germany and Kerrygold Spreadable in the UK. 

It also opened Kerrygold Park - a €38m butter production and packing plant in Co Cork - while last year also saw the opening of a new cheese plant in Saudi Arabia.

"Excellent performances in established markets such as Germany and the US were accompanied by continued expansion in our developing markets of Africa, China and the Middle East," commented Ornua's Chief Executive Kevin Lane.

He added the results were achieved against a backdrop of significant market volatility and political uncertainty.

Ornua said it finished last year with net cash of €57.2m.

This compared to net debt of €17.3m in 2015 and the group said the cash provides it with significant flexibility to fund future growth and support the working capital requirements of its members.

Ornua said it had declared a members bonus of €14.5m, which included a final bonus from the sale of DPI Speciality Foods of €5m.

This is in addition to the DPI related bonus of €15m already paid last year. 

The company last May suspended its monthly milk levy in recognition of the challenges face by Irish dairy farmers due to the global dairy market downturn. 

Ornua's CEO Kevin Lane said today that the suspension of the milk levy would stand for the foreseeable future.