THE Irish Dairy Board (IDB), the company behind Kerrygold butter and Dubliner cheese, saw sales rise 5pc to hit €2bn last year.
IDB is owned by a group of 10 dairy co-ops, including Dairygold and Glanbia. The owners are also its main suppliers.
Full-year results for 2011, published yesterday, show that IDB paid out a record €12.9m to members last year and the business invested twice as much again in acquisitions and capital spending over the period.
The IDB successfully secured a new three-year bank-debt facility of €350m with a group of Irish and international banks, which provides the group with the capacity for future growth.
Sales in 2011 were boosted by a combination of rising food prices and increased demand from abroad, but the pace of increase is understood to have slackened in late 2011 as global dairy output increased.
However, managers warned of falls in the prices it pays to producers.
"We continue to be cautious in our outlook. We believe trading conditions will improve but short-term milk prices are likely to soften as the market adjusts to increased volumes."
IDB raised €350m in loans from international banks in 2011 to fund planned expansion into emerging markets, including China, where demand for dairy products has rocketed in the past decade.
IDB this year launched a new Kerrygold UHT milk product for the Chinese market after signing a distribution agreement with a local player.
Yesterday the company reported what it called a solid sales increase in new consumer markets in North Africa, the Middle East and China.
Carbery Group, which manufactures the Dubliner Cheese that is marketed abroad by the IDB, also published annual accounts yesterday.
It said revenues increased 14.5pc to €256.5m last year. Pre-tax profits rose by 27.8pc to €8.7m. The company said the 2011 performance was boosted by a strong performance from its ingredients division, compensating for a challenging year in its Irish cheese division.
However, Craberry said the Dubliner brand continued to grow in export markets, particularly in the US market.
Meanwhile, Kerry Group described its performance in the first quarter of this year as "satisfactory."
It reported revenues up 9.7pc and said the business was on course to meet its target for growth in earnings of 7pc to 10pc this year.
In an interim management statement, Kerry Group said the business performed "satisfactorily" in the first quarter of 2012, but warned of "challenging trading conditions" in more developed markets.
The statement was published to coincide with its annual general meeting. Revenues in the first three months of the year were boosted by the impact of companies bought in 2011 and like-for-like sales were up 3.8pc the company said.