The farmer-owned Alliance Group, New Zealand's biggest sheepmeat processor and exporter, has announced an improved financial result on the back of recovering demand and better prices in overseas markets.
The cooperative has reported a pre-tax profit of more than $17.5 million for the past year - double last year's figure, boiling down to an after tax profit of $6.2 million.
Chief executive Grant Cuff said Alliance would distribute a $7 million pool payment to its 5000
supplier shareholders, the first in three years.
"The last time was in 2011 and we've had two years off. 2012 was a very bad year for Alliance Group and the industry and no distribution was made and last year we had an even more modest result and again, no distribution was appropriate.
"This year, an improved result and it's timely to come back with a distribution. And we do this as a co-operative. If the results are sufficient, we pay a year end distribution to shareholders."
Mr Cuff said returns on all meat products improved last year, except for venison, but that is also improving.
"Sheepmeats were strong and consistent and beef, manufacturing products in particular into the States in the last few months have increased significantly in price. "
Mr Cuff said the new season had also started off positively.
"Again across all the species that we deal with, it's just a nice balance of demand and we're starting with a pretty clean slate in terms of stocks on hand as we go into the new year. Just the edge coming off the exchange rate as well. The sum of all of those things is a good start."
Mr Cuff is stepping down as chief executive next month.