Co Sligo-based co-op Aurivo has reported an increase in revenues and operating profits for 2020 despite the "uniquely challenging year" due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Aurivo posted a record sales turnover of €488.7m, an increase of 9.4% on 2019.

Its operating profit - before one off exceptionals - soared by 170% to €8.5m while its group EBITDA came to €15.1m, an increase of 69.7% on 2019.

The co-op group also said its net debt reduced to €2.2m from €18.8m.

Aurivo said its milk pool expanded by 5.5% last year and despite initial concerns about the impact of Covid-19 and a noticeable fall in activity in the food service sector, overall demand for dairy held up well in 2020.

The decline in food service was offset by the surging demand in the retail sector, it added.

The Aurivo average milk price for the year was 35.61cpl compared to 34.35cpl in 2019.

It also set up a milk stability fund of €3m which will be paid out in future years to help the co-op's milk supply base manage market volatility.

Aurivo is one of the country's biggest co-operatives, with businesses in consumer foods, dairy ingredients, retail stores, animal feeds, and livestock trading.

It has a workforce of about 650 people and exports to almost 50 countries in markets as diverse as Afghanistan, Africa, Central America, Costa Rica, Germany, Iraq and the UK.

Donal Tierney, chief executive of Aurivo, said the co-op reported a strong and resilient set of results for 2020, in what was a uniquely challenging year.

"Against the backdrop of a global crisis, the hard work and agility of our employees, suppliers and members enabled the co-op to maintain essential supplies, services, and food products across domestic and global markets," Mr Tierney added.

Mr Tierney said that despite the unique year that was 2020, its strategic priorities for the business continue to resonate throughout Aurivo and underpin its approach to sustainable growth.

"While we expect pandemic restrictions to ease during 2021, its ongoing impact, however, will ensure another year of uncertainty and global disruption. We need to remain vigilant and adaptable to ensure the health and safety of our employees, customers, and farmer suppliers, while securing business continuity and future growth," he added.