Innovation drives £389M turnover for Dale Farm

One of the Northern Ireland’s biggest companies, dairy cooperative Dale Farm, has said innovation was a key driver behind its “solid” performance over the past year.

In its results for the year ending March 2017, the group reported an increase in operating profit by 9% to £9.8m, profit before tax increased 16% from £6.8m to £7.9m, with a net income of £15.9 million.

Overall group turnover grew by 5.1% to £389m.

The group generated a positive cash flow, with net debt having decreased from £66.6 million to £64.4 million.

Commenting on the results, Nick Whelan (pictured), Dale Farm’s group chief executive, said: “For the second year running, Dale Farm has delivered a solid financial performance, despite it having been a year of two halves.

“We witnessed a 12% increase in consumer sales, driven by innovation in product development across our dairy portfolio of butter, ice cream, cheddar cheese, liquid milk, yogurt and fresh desserts.

“The recovery in global dairy markets in the second half of the year, combined with Dale Farm’s significant cost reduction plan, enabled us to pay a leading milk price to our farmer members in Northern Ireland and across Great Britain.”

Dale Farm said its pursuit of the sports nutrition market has also proven successful.

“A strategic focus for our business is the development of whey solutions, allowing us to respond to the growing domestic and international trend in protein based products,” Nick added.

The group’s feed business, United Feeds, delivered a “satisfactory performance” despite a challenging environment for farmers throughout the year.

Mr Whelan added: “We will continue to evaluate the considerable opportunities and threats that Brexit will present over the months ahead. Our model presents us with much room for growth, as we remain focused on ongoing innovation and maximising new routes to market.

“Our overarching aim, however, is to continue to afford a leading milk price to our farmer membership.”

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