Food group Glanbia said today it has performed in line with expectations for the first quarter of 2012, in what it called "a more challenging operating environment".
In an interim management statement issued ahead of the company's AGM today, Managing Director John Moloney said Glanbia expected to deliver earnings in the first half of 2012 which are broadly similar to an exceptionally strong first half in 2011.
The company reiterated its full year guidance of 5% to 7% growth in adjusted earnings per share, on a constant currency basis, for 2012.
"We are successfully driving growth in nutritionals and the depth and strength of the portfolio in these dynamic growth sectors positions Glanbia well for the future," Mr Moloney said.
"We remain focused on strong cost management and operational execution across the business."
The company said that in the first quarter, to the period end March 31, 2012, total Group revenue grew 1.9% when compared with the first three months of 2011.
Volume was down 1.5% as lower volumes in Dairy Ingredients and Agribusiness more than offset growth in Global Nutritionals.
Meanwhile a group of former employees were staging a picket outside the AGM venue in Kilkenny.
The 20 retired employees - who are part of a larger group of about 50 pensioners - are in dispute with the food company over cuts to their contracted pension entitlements.
They say Glanbia is reneging on a contractual agreement by management back in the early 90s - which stipulated a 3.5% increase in pensions instead of a wage increases at the time.
Since this year, the company stopped paying an annual increase, they claim.
The pensioner group is also preparing a legal action against the company over the pension breach of contract.