Glanbia has warned that full-year sales for its Irish dairy business will reflect a “difficult” year in 2009 – but said it expects profits to climb again in the coming 12 months.

The company blamed an “unprecedented trading environment” for the anticipated dip, although its US cheese business is expected to have improved its performance.

“The impact of the downturn in global dairy markets in the first half of the year, lower US cheese prices and weak consumer demand resulted in a difficult year in 2009,” the group said in a statement.

“Strong cost management together with an excellent operational performance could not fully offset an unprecedented trading environment.”

In August Glanbia unveiled a 14.6% drop in first-half sales, while profits fell 15.4% to €47.8m. The group will post its full-year results for 2009 in early March.