West Cork-based cheese group Carbery has reported a "solid" financial performance for 2020 as group turnover increased by 5.8% to just under €460m.

Carbery said its group EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation of goodwill and other intangibles and exceptional items) increased by 1% to €44.9m.

The group's net debt position at the end of the year stood at €57.8m, up from €47.2m in 2019.

Milk volumes supplied to Carbery's processing facility in Ballineen in West Cork increased by 5% last year to 596m litres of milk.

Carbery makes Dubliner Cheese and Carbery Cracker for the Irish market as well as cheese for export under the Ornua brands. It produces more than 55,000 tonnes of cheese a year - 25% of all cheese made in Ireland.

Late last year, it completed the €78m expansion of its West Cork headquarters, which was part of a plan by the dairy and ingredients company to reduce its reliance on the British market post Brexit.

The new facility in Ballineen means the maker of Dubliner Cheese will be able to produce new varieties of cheese - including mozzarella and grilling cheese - for sale in Europe and Asia.

The new production facility will process 19 million litres of milk a week during peak supply, from over 1,200 farmer suppliers.

TJ Sullivan, Chairman of Carbery Group, said today's positive business results reflected the group's strong position, but that other factors were also at play.

"The diverse nature of our business has helped us weather what 2020 and Covid-19 brought. We also have to credit the exceptional performance of our employees in Ballineen and around the world who, throughout very stressful conditions globally, remained committed, kept themselves and each other safe, and continued to deliver for our customers," Mr Sullivan said.

"I also want to credit our farmers who continued the supply of our milk at the highest quality throughout the stresses of the year," he added.

Carbery Group CEO Jason Hawkins said that despite Covid-19 related delays, the cheese expansion project was completed and the new plant is producing mozzarella.

"With the challenges of a potential hard Brexit behind us, and our new plant online, as well as the investments we continue to make in our value-added Taste and Nutrition business segments, I'm confident that we will continue to generate value for the farmers of West Cork," Mr Hawkins said.