Lakeland Dairies has reported higher revenues and operating profits for 2021, while it also said it had paid a "competitive" milk price to milk producers during the year.

Farmer-owned Lakeland Dairies is the largest cross-border dairy processing co-operative on the island of Ireland.

It said its revenues for last year rose by 20% to €1.3 billion across its four operating divisions - Food Ingredients, Foodservice, Consumer Foods and Agribusiness. This was up by €217.7m on the 2020 figure of €1.1 billion.

Operating profits for the year increased by 8% to €28.2m, while EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) rose by €4.9m to €55.4m.

Lakeland collects 2 billion litres of milk from 3,200 farm families across 16 counties in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The co-operative has a portfolio of 240 different dairy products made on eight processing sites which it exports to over 80 countries worldwide.

Breaking down its divisions, Lakelands said that Food Ingredient revenues increased by 20% to €831.5m, based on consistently strong demand for the co-operative's powders, proteins and dairy fats during the year.

It produced over 280,000 tonnes of milk powders and butter in 2021, representing a 12% increase in volume shipments.

Revenues at its Foodservice increased by 23% to €223.9m, up by €42.2m on the previous year figure of €181.7m.

The co-op said this was a "robust" performance considering that global foodservice markets continued to suffer from volatility and disruption due to the pandemic last year.

Its Consumer Foods division also saw revenues increasing by 16% to €170.2m. It noted organic growth and increased uptake of dairy by consumers in the retail grocery sector in 2021.

Meanwhile, Lakeland Agri's revenues grew by 14% to €86.5m for the year, based on a strong performance with feed sales volumes of 218,000 tonnes and fertiliser sales up 19%.

Michael Hanley, Lakeland Dairies group chief executive, said the 2021 results reflect prudent management in the context of an intensely competitive and increasingly volatile trading environment.

Michael Hanley, the CEO of Lakeland Dairies

"The financial results and accounts for the year are both prudent and satisfactory. This is particularly so in the context of an intensely competitive trading environment, when the achievement and maintenance of strength, sustainability and resilience have never been more important for globally focused businesses," Mr Hanley said.

He said this enabled Lakeland to pay a competitive milk price, also reflective of overall market conditions, throughout the year.

"The world needs high quality food. This demand is growing and dairy provides the solution. We are therefore concentrating on our long-term global contribution and value-growth through the strength of our market presence and the robust quality of our supply chain," Lakeland's chief executive said.

"We will continue to innovate in everything we do to ensure the future sustainability and success of our business in the interests of the milk producers and customers who we serve," he added.

Mr Hanley said the co-op is focused on a sustainable future and the creation of further value for its dairy farmers.

"We expect relatively stable dairy market conditions through 2022 albeit there are significant challenges in our operating environment, including inflationary pressure on all costs, as economic uncertainty in light of the pandemic and geopolitical issues persist," he added.