February 23/Arden Hills, Minn./PRNewswire -- Land O'Lakes Inc. released its 2011 financial results, which included record sales and the company's second-highest net earnings.

Highlights of 2011 included record net sales of $12.8 billion, up from $11.1 billion in 2010; net earnings of $182 million, the second-highest in Land O'Lakes' history, up from 2010's $178 million; and $108 million in cash returns to members, the cooperative's third-highest annual cash return.

Chris Policinski, Land O'Lakes’ president and chief executive officer, said, "Our 2011 results reflect strong performance in a challenging economy and volatile marketplace.

"These results also continue a trend of strong performance. Over the past three years, Land O'Lakes delivered its top three years in net earnings and cash returns to members, as well as two of our top three years in net sales."

These positive results were driven by the strength of Land O'Lakes' brands; solid performance by innovative new products; a continued focus on operating efficiency and risk management; and the disciplined pursuit of strategic growth initiatives.

"Agriculture and food production are among the best growth industries of our era," Policinski added. He cited the increasing demand for food, driven by an expanding global population, which is expected to increase from nearly 7 billion people today to more than 9 billion by 2050.

"Our performance, strong balance sheet and market momentum position Land O'Lakes to capitalize on growth opportunities in the marketplace, and deliver greater value for our members and customers."

Land O'Lakes 2011 $12.8 billion in net sales were up 15% from 2010's $11.1 billion. These results include record revenues in the company Dairy Foods, Feed and Crop Inputs businesses.

Net earnings for 2011 totaled $182 million, up 2% from 2010's $178 million. Earnings for 2011 were impacted by $14.7 million in unrealized hedging losses (as of December 31, 2011), while 2010's earnings include the impact of $6.2 million in unrealized hedging gains. Company officials noted that unrealized hedging is more an indicator of market conditions at a given time than of performance.

 From the February 24, 2012, Prepared Foods' Daily News.