Europe’s largest mozzarella manufacturer, Glanbia Cheese Ltd, has reported lower margins for the 12 months ended 2 January 2021, but it still remains one of the most profitable dairy companies in Britain or Ireland.

Headquartered in Cheshire, England, but with two main processing sites at Magheralin in Co Armagh and Llangefni in northwest Wales, the company operates as a joint venture between Glanbia plc and US-based Leprino Foods. It has the capacity to process around 600m litres of milk. Employee numbers in 2020 totalled 396.

The latest set of accounts show that turnover in 2020 was down nearly £15m (€16.9m) to stand at £285.7m (€322m). Operating profits fell from £31m (€34.9m) to £25.1m (€28.3m).

However, that still leaves a very healthy operating profit margin of 8.8%, which is well ahead of rival dairy companies and Irish co-ops, which typically report profit margins in the range of 2% to 3%.

The directors of Glanbia Cheese blame lower dairy market prices for the reduced turnover in 2020.

Overhead costs in the business were up due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while Brexit preparations also hit margins.

Around 60% of sales are in the UK, and 40% in the EU, so the company would have been exposed if the UK and EU had failed to reach a trade deal at the end of 2020.

Glanbia Cheese has also added an EU manufacturing site, with its Portlaoise factory opening in June 2021. It has the capacity to process 360m litres of milk per year and manufacture 45,000t of mozzarella.

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