The interim CEO at Ornua has dismissed speculation that the Kerrygold butter brand is for sale.

“I have heard nothing at board level, and nothing directly from the co-operative members themselves on it. All I know is what I have read in the papers,” Donal Buggy told the Irish Farmers Journal this week.

“My initial reaction to speculation about hiving off the Kerrygold brand is to ask which would give you more value going forward. There is the potential upfront capital gain [from selling] but you have to look at what happens then.

“You will have a company that will have different ambitions for returns than a co-op would have. Alternatively, leave it as the status quo and drive on the value for all in the Irish dairy industry.

“Before anyone talks about hiving it off they need to figure out what they want in the future, not just in the short term. Kerrygold has grown dramatically in the past five years, but it still is nowhere near mature yet, so there is a lot more value to be gotten out of Kerrygold in our markets.”

On that value, Buggy says that while Germany is Kerrygold’s biggest market by volume, the US is its “biggest profit market”. He highlighted the strength of the brand in the US market, noting it is in more outlets than any other butter.

Commenting on the exit of four senior executives at the company he said: “Four in a few weeks is a lot, in anyone’s terms, but it is just a coincidence. Róisín [Hennerty] will still be here until the middle of next year, and John Jordan is here until December.”