Lakeland Dairies has reported higher profits and revenues for last year with improved performances seen across all divisions of the business.

Group annual revenues rose by 28% to €769.8m last year, up from €601m in 2016. This yielded an operating profit of €16.8m, up from €7.2m in 2016.

Lakeland said its profit before tax for last year came to €15.9m and the co-operative closed the year with a 15% increase in shareholders’ funds at €117.6m.

Earnings before interest, depreciation, tax and amortisation (EBIDTA) were €32.6m, up significantly from €18.9m in 2016.

Farmer-owned Lakeland Dairies operates across 15 counties on a cross border basis, processing milk into a wide range of value-added dairy foodservice products and food ingredients. 

The business has a portfolio of 240 different dairy products which it exports to 80 countries worldwide.

Today's figures also show that milk volumes processed in 2017 increased to over 1.2 billion litres, reflecting ongoing expansion among Lakeland's 2,500 milk producers and a full year of milk supply from Fane Valley Dairies, which was bought in May 2016. 

Breaking down its divisions, Lakeland said that revenues at its food ingredients unit increased by 32% to €468.4m in 2017, up from €353.6m in 2016. 

It said the growth came on the back of strong business development activity and a resurgent demand from food manufacturers for high quality, functional dairy ingredients combined with favourable market conditions.

Meanwhile, revenues at its foodservice division increased by 23% to €239.8m in 2017, up from €194.1m in the previous year.

It said its major processing centres at Killeshandra and Newtownards continued to increase output year on year, producing record volumes of butter products, ice cream, cream and cream blends.  

Revenues at its agribusiness increased by 16% to €61.7m in 2017, up from €53.3m in 2016. Lakelands said the improved performance reflected an overall improvement in dairy market conditions. 

Unfavourable weather also resulted in many farmers providing supplementary feeding in addition to grazing to boost milk output by their herds.

Michael Hanley, Lakelands CEO said that trading conditions were helped by a reduction in global milk supplies and product availability. 

"We were able to take advantage of these conditions through our efficient processing capabilities and worldwide market presence, achieving satisfactory results," Mr Hanley said.

"While there are challenges in the global market, it is our intention to continue to drive competitiveness and overall growth, targeting opportunities across infant formulas, dairy proteins and health-related nutritional products," the CEO added.