Milk Link has continued to improve its financial performance over the past six months, despite a “very challenging economic and trading environment”.

The group’s earning before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the first half of the financial year was £20.1m, up £1.3m (6.9%) on the same period last year – excluding £2.5m of member ‘levy’, which ended on 1 April 2011. Turnover was £311.8m, up £28.8m (10%), equivalent to 40.8p on a per litre basis, up 4.3p/litre (11.6%).

“Despite a very difficult economic environment, we continued to improve our financial, operational and trading performance in line with expectations,” said chief executive Neil Kennedy.

This had allowed Milk Link to increase member milk price by 2p/litre, returning an extra £16.9m to members compared with the same period in 2010. In addition, Mr Kennedy said the co-op had been accruing for a Processing Interest Payment ahead of last year’s 9.25% return paid on our members’ investment.

“Despite the current difficult trading conditions, Milk Link remains positive about the long-term prospects for the dairy sector,” he added.

The group was committed to an “ambitious growth agenda” that centred on expansion at its Lockerbie, Taw Valley and Trevarrian creameries.

“Looking forward, the macro-economic and trading conditions will continue to be very demanding. Nevertheless, we expect our full-year financial performance to continue to be in line with our budget,” Mr Kennedy said.