A good performance in 2008 and a cautious outlook for 2009 – that was the thrust of Glanbia’s trading statement which was issued on Tuesday morning.

The statement revealed that adjusted earnings per share growth last year came to 17 per cent, which was “in line with market expectations”.

All of the plc’s businesses, Food Ingredients Ireland aside, performed “in line with or better than expectations”.

“This represents a good performance given the decline in global dairy markets and weakening consumer sentiment,” said John Moloney, the Group’s Managing Director.

“2009 is set to be a very challenging year given the severe impact of the ongoing economic and financial turmoil on both developed and emerging economies.

“In response to this, we continue to critically examine our cost structures including, as previously announced, a €16 million rationalisation programme across our businesses to remain cost competitive.”

He added: “In the context of the current unprecedented financial, dairy market and economic uncertainties we are very cautious at this early stage of the year, however, we remain focused on achieving the market consensus earnings growth for 2009.”

Glanbia’s Irish division (including Consumer Foods and Agribusiness/Property), traded well during 2008, despite the “challenging market environment”.

Its international division performed strongly, with the aforementioned exception of Food Ingredients Ireland.

The US food ingredients operation, along with global Nutritionals had a strong performance, which was driven by good demand and a reasonable market environment.

However, the full year performance of the international division will be broadly in line with what Glanbia achieved in 2007.

An “excellent performance” from US-based Southwest Cheese underpinned a significant full year improvement in the overall result from the international joint ventures perspective.

“World dairy markets are increasingly volatile, with prices continuing to decline,” reads the statement. “The difficult trading conditions, with lower world dairy demand, reflect the impacts of the current global economic and financial crisis.”

Glanbia’s full year results for 2008 will be announced on Wednesday, March 4th.