Turnover at Ireland's biggest food exporter, the Irish Dairy Board (IDB), rose 5 per cent last year to more than €2.1 billion on the back of record sales of Kerrygold butter.
Pre-tax profits jumped 87 per cent to €22 million from €12.2 million, the group said.
The IDB, which announced plans to create 50 new jobs in Co Cork as part of a new €30 million investment in Mitchelstown, also said its operating surplus rose 25 per cent to €25.8 million from €20.7 million a year earlier.
IDB closed the year debt free and with cash of €51.9 million and net assets of €417 million. It has declared an €11 million bonus for its members, an increase of 16 per cent on the €9.5 million declared in 2012.
"I am pleased to report a very strong business performance in 2013, combining solid earnings growth across all divisions and enhanced product returns to our members. Our continuing investment in brand growth, New product development and in-market expansion is designed to ensure that our members and suppliers can expand on the basis of sustainable market demand," said chief executive Kevin Lane.
More than 350 million packets of Kerrygold butter were sold worldwide in 2013, the group said. Kery gold remains the top selling butter in Germany with a 17 per cent market share. It is also the number one imported butter in America.
IDB said 2013 was something of a dramatic year in terms of worldwide dairy markets. Droughts in New Zealand and a prolonged winter in Europe led to a reduction in milk output levels in the first half of the year compared to 2012. This - combined with growing demand from emerging markets such as China - pushed prices up higher.
The group added new sales and marketing teams in Russia, China, Saudia Arabia and South Africa in 2013 as it seeks to make further inroads into emerging markets. It also acquired a 75 per cent stake in Saudi Arabian company Al Wazeen Trading last year and is in the process of developing a cheese manufacturing plant in Riyadh.
The new 50,000 tonne capacity announced for Co Cork on Wednesday, is a fully integrated butter production and packing facility in Mitchelstown that will also serve as an innovation centre for Kerrygold, which has ambitious expansion plans post the abolition of milk quotas in 2015.
Mr Lane said abolition of the quotas present the Irish dairy industry with its first opportunity for “meaningful expansion” in 30 years. He said IDB’s strategy was to ensure its members were in a position to take full advantage of such opportunities as they arise.
Headquartered in Dublin, the board employs some 3,100 people globally. It is responsible for exporting as much as 60 per cent of Ireland’s dairy products to over 100 countries.