However, despite challenging markets, the Cavan-based co-op has reported 2015 pre-tax profits of €12.8m, a 10% rise on 2014.
Group revenues for the year amounted to €588.5m, a 6% drop for the year. The company closed the year with shareholders’ funds of €109m.
Also during 2015, Lakeland acquired Taste Trends, the UK-based maker of Coolicious branded frozen yogurts; it began the expansion of its milk powder processing operations at Bailieboro, Co Cavan; and opened a new global logistics centre at its site in Newtownards, Co Down; other dairy processing sites, including Killeshandra, Co Cavan, were also upgraded.
“We are seeing returns on our investments, which are seeing us bring new products to the marketplace. Our goal is to keep paying a competitive milk price,” said Mr Hanley.
“Our volumes are increasing, and we have customers for that extra milk. The challenge is the price that can be achieved in a marketplace where the supply exceeds the supply.”
Lakeland’s suppliers increased milk output by 13% to 900m litres in 2015; its potential output for 2016 now exceeds 1.1bn litres following this week’s acquisition of neighbouring co-op Fane Valley in Co Down.
Lakeland’s Foodservice Division revenues rose 6% to €201.7m. Its Food Ingredients revenues of €324.4m were down 14% on 2014.
Agribusiness division revenues increased by 8% to €62.4m, based primarily on sales of 162,000 tonnes of high quality animal feeds and over 25,000 tonnes of fertilisers.
Staff costs totalled €41.6m in 2015 including pay and pensions for the almost 700 people working in the group. This figure was up from €36.7m in 2014 when there were 667 people on the payroll.
Lakeland’s eight senior executives shared a collective remuneration package of around €1.5m.