Dairygold, the Irish farmer-owned co-operative, has posted a leap in sales and earnings for 2007, thanks to soaring dairy prices and its streamlining programme.

The company saw profits jump from EUR240,000 in 2006 to EUR21.5m (US$34.3m) last year as the benefits from its moves to rationalise the business boosted the bottom line.

Turnover climbed 15% to EUR625.1m thanks to the high price of dairy commodities on global markets.

Chief executive Jerry Henchy said: "Our strategy to drive more of our milk supply into higher value sales has also helped to enhance the performance.

"Dairygold has moved to exploit market opportunities creating small but strategically significant footholds in markets such as China as a supplier of ingredients to the baby food sector and in Europe with speciality cheeses such as Jarlsberg and Manchego."

In 2006, the co-operative split into two with farmers retaining control of dairy processing and agricultural trading and the consumer foods business spun off into Reox Holdings.

Reox named the consumer foods arm Breeo Foods, which it sold to Ireland-based food giant Kerry Foods in March.

Kerry uses the Dairygold brand name for its range of butters and spreads.