Milk Link, the UK dairy co-operative, has reported a jump in half-year profits on the back of rising revenue.

In a trading update issued today (17 November), Milk Link booked underlying pre-tax profit of GBP9.3m (US$14m), a rise of 24% on the year. Turnover climbed 18% to GBP278m.

Chief executive Neil Kennedy said the company had performed "satisfactorily" during the first half of its financial year.

"We are well positioned to cope with the growing economic challenges and instability facing the dairy market," he added.

Higher returns from cheese, long-life milk and ingredients meant Milk Link was able to increase its standard litre price by 1.5ppl but the company warned of an "increasingly challenging" dairy products market in the months ahead.

"Looking ahead to the second half and indeed the whole of 2009 we see the dairy products market becoming increasingly challenging. This is in the light of a significant economic downturn in the UK, weaker consumer demand, lower and more volatile dairy commodity prices and the growing threat of cheaper imports at the 'value' end of the market," Milk Link said in its trading update.

"Although not totally insulated from these factors, we believe that our continued focus on: producing a comprehensive range of high quality British dairy products for leading retailers and food service businesses; securing greater operating efficiencies; and driving out costs from the business will help us manage the impact of current pressures in the marketplace."