Contributing to the positive results was Kerrygold butter achieving record retail sales of approximately €740m ($842m).
Financial performance highlights
Group EBITDA increased by 18% to €58.8m ($66.9m). This result includes a €9m ($10.2m) increase in brand and market development investment, which now totals €45m ($51.2m).
Product purchases from Ornua farmer members rose by 16% in 2015, to a record 286,000mt. Ornua said this reflects the impact of its work in opening new routes to market for Irish dairy products.
The launch of the foodservice brand, Palatina to the EU, US and Middle Eastern markets was also noted as a contributory factor.
The company said that it strengthened its teams in China, the Middle East and Africa: Ornua Africa opened a new Kerrygold powder packing facility in Lagos, Nigeria, and acquired Shanghai-based dairy manufacturer, Ambrosia.
Increased cash bonuses
On the basis of the results, a €14m ($15.9m) annual bonus, up 17% on 2014, was declared to Ornua’s members, including a cash element of €10m ($11.4m).
An additional special cash bonus of €15m ($17.1m) was declared from the gain on the disposal of a majority stake in Ornua’s US distribution business, DPI Specialty Foods, in late 2015. Funds from this sale will also be invested into opening new routes to market for Ornua.
Suspending milk levy
In recognition of the on-farm challenges currently experienced by Irish dairy farming families due to the global dairy market downturn, the Ornua Board said it is suspending the monthly Ornua milk levy from May 1, 2016.
Through the milk levy, Irish dairy farmers directly contribute to the Kerrygold brand and the marketing development of Irish dairy products in over 110 countries.
The company said that notwithstanding the levy’s important contribution to Ornua, it hoped that the suspension would help support farming families at this difficult time.
Kevin Lane, CEO of Ornua said, “We are very pleased to report a solid 2015 performance across our Foods and Ingredients businesses. In the first year following the removal of EU milk quotas and the first year of the Ornua identity, we have delivered growth in existing and new markets.”