Ornua, the owner of the Kerrygold brand and Ireland’s largest exporter of Irish dairy products, reported record sales and profits in 2020.

Last year, the dairy co-operative reported an operating profit of €83m, an increase of 69 percent from 2019.

An increase in home cooking during the pandemic lockdowns in Europe and the US boosted retail sales of the group’s premium butter and cheese brands, reports The Irish Times.

“There’s been a huge shift in people eating at home,” said Ornua CEO John Jordan.

“[With] at home demand, both for meals and things like baking, consumers have gone back to brands they trust and know well, Kerrygold has been a real beneficiary of that,” he added.

However, turnover rose by only 0.9 percent to €2.34 billion, mainly due to lower margins in the foodservice business, reports Independent.ie.

“Our foodservice business, which is generally higher volume, lower margins, that has been dramatically down, and our branded side of the business, which tends to be slightly lower volume but higher margin [is up], so that product mix of where we’re selling that has impacted the turnover,” said Jordan.

The co-op's strong performance was achieved despite “a complex trading environment dominated by Covid-19, market volatility, and the macro-economic challenges of Brexit and punitive US tariffs.”

Ornua exports dairy products to over 110 countries on behalf of its group of co-ops, processors, and food firms in Ireland.

It reports that global sales of its flagship Kerrygold brand increased by 13 percent to €1.3 billion last year, selling more than 10 million packets of butter and cheese a week.

And in the United States, Kerrygold has become the preferred dairy brand of 10 percent of consumers, making it the number two butter brand in the country.