Boost sales with right mix of milk, dairy products: Bestsellers, NPDs, tips

Retailers need to stock a wide yet tight assortment of milk, dairy and dairy-alternative products to make the best sales and gain loyal customers.

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Being among the most-bought products in a convenience channel, milk and dairy products are easily one of the reasons why most Britons get off their sofa and walk into their local  shops. 

Needless to say, dairy products are a staple part of all convenience stores with milk being the undisputed king here. Dairy products such as yoghurts, cheese and butters too are central, which remains the predominant shopping mission in convenience. With almost a third of buyers heading towards the dairy section, it is no surprise that stocking a wide and wholesome dairy range is every retailer’s utmost priority.

Importance of the dairy segment can be ascertained by the fact that the sector is worth £10 billion and is bought more often than any product of the grocery market- twice as frequently as soft drinks for example.

Apart from milk, butter and dairy-based spreads continue to brighten our household as butter continues to perform well, delivering a +7.6 percent value increase as compared to two years ago. Products like Président Slightly Salted Block Butter (250g) and Président Unsalted Block Butter (250g) continue to drive sales, as consumers seek out small and affordable luxuries to brighten up daily life.

While grated and recipe cheeses too are driving the most dynamic growth, sliced and adult cheese snack sectors have also seen a positive momentum. Within the cheese market, processed cheese is also growing and brands are playing a huge part in this. In fact, Mondelēz International’s contribution to the category is growing ahead of the market at 4 percent.

Being recognised brands with familiarity of taste, both Dairylea and Philadelphia are household favourites.

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Philadelphia is the leading cream cheese brand whose core range has a distinctive creamy taste meeting the needs of shoppers for more than 100 years, with a whole range of flavours and fat levels, as well as a snacks range.

Dairylea is a leading processed cheese brand with products in the spreads, slices, and snacking segments, meeting a range of consumer requirements needed to tackle “the new normal”. 

Heloise Le Norcy-Trott, Group Marketing Director for Lactalis UK & Ireland, believes that with an increasing number of consumers now buying more than one type of cheese, retailers should offer consumers a wide variety of flavours and formats to cater for different eating occasions and uses.

“It is also important that retailers stock best-selling, well promoted brands like Président, Galbani, Seriously and new addition to the Lactalis Group portfolio, Leerdammer, in their core range, whilst choosing products according to the different ways of eating cheese,” Norcy-Trott told Asian Trader.

Seriously Spreadable and Galbani are seeing phenomenal growth. Interestingly, Lactalis’ Président Brie Bakes and Seriously Cheese Nuggets are designed to appeal to non-vegan consumers trying to reduce their meat intake, as an alternative to meat protein.

With the average Briton expected to consume 8.5kg of yoghurt in 2022, as per Statista, retailers should also consider stocking a wide and wholesome range of yoghurts for every age group. This niche segment has been greatly affected by changing consumer tastes – traditional sugar-rich flavoured yoghurts have faded while low-fat, plain and health-focused yoghurts have grown in popularity. 

Inspite and despite the supremacy of dairy in Britons’ kitchens, plant-based dairy-free alternatives too are rising the popularity charts really fast- from reasons ranging from allergies to environment consciousness to even taste.

By the end of 2021, as per IRI, the dairy alternative category was worth over £350m, with oat milk accounting for £166m of total sales. Ben Vear, General Manager of Minor Figures, revealed to Asian Trader that the category enjoyed a period of accelerated growth during the various Covid-19 lockdowns as at-home coffee occasions rose while shoppers worked from home. 

This habit developed over the pandemic is surely expected to grow in leaps and bounds. Apart from oat milk, soya milk and now potato milk also enjoys a niche fan following.

Trends, Must-Stocks and NPDs

Health

When it comes to nutritional requirements and wider health goals, consumers always look up to dairy and dairy-alternative products. Retailers stocking healthier products are expected to gain more loyal customers who in turn spread the word around, thus bringing in more footfalls thus creating a good brand image.

Milk-based flavoured drink maker YAZOO offers products that are free from artificial sweeteners, flavours, or colours, high in protein and is a source of calcium, protein, and Vitamin B2.

“Our YAZOO KiDS product, which has a completely unique no added sugar or artificial sweeteners recipe, is the fastest growing no added sugar milk drink on the market,” Dan Chesbrough, Business Unit Controller for Grocery at FrieslandCampina said, adding that Yazoo’s range has he same natural sugar levels as a semi-skimmed glass of milk.

Focus on healthier lifestyles continues to grow in prominence in the cheese segment as well. Dairylea’s iconic triangles, made with milk and cheese, provide a good source of calcium with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives as well as portion control. At 33kcals per triangle, this tasty snack is perfect for the shoppers looking for portion control for their families.

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Cream cheese products such as Philadelphia Light, which has the same great taste as Philadelphia Original but with 40 percent less fat, enable consumers to make quick, convenient and great tasting lunches. In fact, the demand for the brand’s ‘Better for You’ range of lower fat products is growing, making these products a must-stock for retailers. All of Philadelphia Snacks products are now under 100kcal per portion, implying that these are an ideal lighter treat for health-conscious consumers.

While Leerdammer cheese slices and blocks are great additions to salads, and sandwiches, Leerdammer Light, with 52 calories a slice, also offers options for those looking for healthier choices.

Leading dairy brand Müller is another significant player in the sector. Present in both milks and yoghurts, the maker has been innovating in both areas. 

In keeping with the growth of healthier, lower sugar options, Müller’ recently launched Light Kremas- a light version of whipped Greek-style yoghurt. 

Another recently-launched product from the maker is Gut Glory- a creamy yoghurt which contains live cultures. The Gut Glory range is available in two pack sizes, 450g big pots in Salted Caramel and Strawberry with fibre and four pack single flavour 125g pots, in Strawberry, Rhubarb and Peach & Mango with fibre.

Last year, Müller launched its first ever kefir product, Müller Kefir Smoothie. With the kefir drinks market continuing to grow 24 per cent, the dairy brand aims to shake up the flavoured milk category by focusing on taste and leveraging the familiarity of the well-known and trusted Müller brand.

Flavours

Our country’s total flavoured milk category is worth £510m while across the country, chocolate flavoured milk is the second largest subcategory worth £116m, as per market reports.

Within convenience, sales of the Mars Chocolate Drinks and Treats (MCD & T) range of chocolate milk drinks have increased by 20 percent YOY.

Michelle Frost, general manager at MCD & T says, “Our range of milk drinks enable consumers to enjoy some of their favourite confectionery brands in a convenient format.

“With the increase in travel, we anticipate that sales of on-the-go formats will rise in tandem, continuing the growth of our range.”

The 350 ml range includes Mars, Galaxy, Mars Caramel, Milky Way, Bounty, Maltesers, Snickers and Twix.

Chesbrough from YAZOO too agrees with market figures as he claims the supremacy of chocolate flavour.

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“Chocolate remains the most popular flavour across the market, with over 50 percent market share, but for YAZOO, our strawberry flavour performs about as well as that,” Chesbrough pointed out.

The maker now has relaunched one of its best-selling limited-edition flavour Choc Caramel. The latest limited-edition release follows the success of YAZOO’s Jaffalicious Choc Orange, which it will replace. 

Fruit-infused yoghurts are also expected to rise in popularity, like blueberries which are deemed as “superfood”- high in antioxidants, fibre and vitamin C. 

Incorporating these fruits into dairy innovations such as ice cream balls will ensure consumers are still getting their vital nutrients while also enjoying a sweet treat. 

Sustainability

Like in other aisles, sustainability is one of the topmost concerns in this section too.   To tap into the sentiment, brands and makers are coming up with innovations like recyclable packs.

Müller Milk & Ingredients too recently announced the relaunch of its branded liquid milk range, with a focus on health, recyclability of the packaging and responsible sourcing.

iStock image“We know that Müller is a much loved and well trusted brand in the dairy category, so there is a growth opportunity to leverage these strong brand credentials, expanding into new areas,” Nick Garner, business unit head at Müller Milk & Ingredients, at the time.

YAZOO too has officially transitioned to 100 percent rPET packaging across its 300ml and 400ml packs. The packs, which feature easy peelable sleeves to make stripping and correct recycling even simpler, increased from the previous 20 percent figure ahead of the end of 2021 deadline. 

“We have already introduced Tetra Pak cartons and bendable paper straws across our No Added Sugar range, and we’re always looking for new ways to make changes to our business, in line with environmental concerns,” Chesbrough said.

Plant-based Dairy-Alternatives

One in three Britons consume plant-based milk at least some of the time, according to research from Mintel, compared with one in seven five years ago. Clearly, the trend now extends far beyond veganism and the lactose-intolerance.

Due to the combined effects of consumer perception of healthier lifestyle, awareness drives such as Veganuary, as well as expansion of plant-based range, Britons are increasingly gravitating towards dairy-free plant-based alternatives. 

Vear from Minor Figures states that oat milk continues to be the dominant variant in the category, with over 40 percent of total share of dairy alternatives being oat. This is expected to surpass 50 percent later this year implying oats are now bigger than both coconut and soya milk combined, he said.

Minor Figures’ new product range ‘Everyday Oat’ is set to be launched across chillers nationwide (RRP £2.00). This range has been designed as a go to for cereal, breakfast occasions, shakes and smoothies, to be used in tea and coffee.

Alpro has been particularly successful at tapping into the health trend, with brand positioning around naturalness and plant-based health benefits that resonated with consumers. The maker has recently launched coffee-flavoured milk which enjoys a good demand. 

Another popular brand here is Lactofree that offers real dairy but without the lactose. It successfully attracted more new shoppers whilst retaining existing ones, resulting in the brand having one of the highest levels of loyalty amongst its dairy competitors. 

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Although dairy avoidance is not a rare thing anymore, it is the younger demographic, most notably Gen Z, who are the driving force behind the trend.

No wonder, dairy and lactose free spreads (apart from dairy-free milk) have also become an increasingly important sector within butters and spreads, now worth over £54m in total market. This niche segment is expected to see continued growth as the number of consumers either not eating dairy or actively reducing their dairy consumption.

Upfield’s Flora Plant B+tter has launched a brand-new spreadable butter alternative, Flora Plant B+tter Spreadable. Flora Plant B+tter Spreadable is fully plant-based, made with 100 percent natural ingredients, and contains no artificial colours or flavours.

The product also claims to have a 70 per cent lower carbon footprint than dairy butter based on a product life cycle assessment, and the tub, lid and foil are all recyclable.

Oatly have made quite a splash in recent years with their oat milk and other oat-based products. Aside from oat milk, they also produce vegan ice cream, various oat-based cream products for cooking and, the reason it is here, is its oat-based yoghurts, which they call “Oatgurt”.

Alpro has been known well for its soy, almond and other plant-based milks, but lately, it has ventured into other areas including potted desserts, ice cream and, of course, yoghurts. They offer plain, flavoured as well as Greek style yoghurts to choose from. 

Tips to Retailers

Skimmed and fat, flavoured and fruit-infused, dairy-free and “better for you’, there is an ocean of products for retailers to stock. But also, with so much to choose from, it is easy for the shoppers to get confused. The best support that a retailer can give to shoppers is not to bombard with all the choices at once and let them have some breathing space.

Vear from Minor Figures advises retailers to not confuse shoppers with too many choices, which especially tends to happen in a category like plant-based milk alternatives, where there’s a huge breadth of choice. 

“A tight range offering choice across oat, almond and soya milk and ‘barista’ SKU’s is important. Signposting products with merchandising across the ambient and chilled shelves is also key,” Vear said, pointing out that “consumers shopping the category are usually well informed and typically looking to purchase products from brands with strong sustainability credentials”. 

Minor Figures claims to be a carbon neutral and a B-Corp – both being important purchase drivers for those shopping the category.

Vear further adds that a core offering of oat, soya and almond milks is important. 

“Convenience retailers should look at merchandising products in both the chillers and on the ambient shelves and ensuring that in offering oat milks ‘barista’ labelled products are represented,” he told Asian Trader.

Independent retailers should also look to stock their chillers with category champions like Mars Milk and Galaxy Milk. The level of familiarity represented by these staple brands means that they should be displayed prominently to entice shoppers and drive on-the-go sales.

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While MCD & T’s range of milk drinks are suitable for ambient storage, they are best presented to consumers in refrigerators and served chilled, Frost told Asian Trader.

Stocking what and how much are also key questions here. To answer them, Norcy-Trott from Lactalis recommends retailers to ensure that facings on the shelves are proportional to the “spend-share” of each area. 

“The spend share for everyday consumption being 52 percent, recipe 17 percent, specialty cheese 12.2 percent, spreadable 11.4 percent and snacking 7.3 percent.” she said, adding that retailers can also vary facings according to shopper profiles, future growth potential, shopper mission for each store and strategic goals.

Stocking PMP range is a win-win solution in this aisle as well.

PMPs represent 64 percent of YAZOO sales. Its one litre bottles are available at £1.79-PMP. Whilst the core 400ml bottles are in a £1.15 PMP, with an additional flash showing the attractive new 2 for £2 offer. The 400ml PMP is a great match for the impulse and drink-it-now occasion, whilst the one litre bottles are perfect for take-home and sharing moments.

Icing on the cake here is that YAZOO offers permanent PMP variants of all core flavours (Chocolate, Strawberry, Banana and Vanilla) as well as across its Limited-Edition flavours, meaning retailers can tailor their offering to whatever suits their stores. 

Retailers can stock the flavours and sizes they know sell well whilst communicating value to their shoppers and maintaining that point of difference, especially as a quarter of consumers continue to shop locally.

Careful merchandising of the chiller and adjacent ambient shelves, stocked with fresh staples for weekly shopping such as milk, cheese and butter can prompt shoppers to add additional items to their basket, driving impulse purchase. 

Time to boost sales

Interestingly, the purchase of dairy products has been on the decline for several years as many are opting for dairy alternatives. However, it has emerged in a recent industry report by Tate & Lyle PLC that a third (34 percent) of 18-35-year-olds in Europe are consuming more dairy than they were three years ago, with 71 percent eating cheese, 81 percent drinking milk and 69 percent eating yoghurt at least once a week.

Furthermore, 77 percent of 18-35-year-olds said they are happy to consider eating more dairy products if they could try products with less fat, sugar, and allergens.

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On the other side of supply, dairy farmers are currently embroiled in trade upheavals and new environmental regulations prompted by Brexit. The supply side is expected to be volatile and prices are expected to trend upwards for some time.

Ash Amirahmadi, the managing director of Arla Foods UK, said recently that producing fresh milk had for some time been delivering “little to no profitability for farmers” but the situation was now acute as the Ukraine crisis stoked farm cost inflation.

The most recent official figures show that over the past year the cost of a pint of milk has risen by 7p to 49p – a 17 percent increase, majorly driven by increased costs of feed, fuel and fertiliser.

Despite the industry upheavals and cost of living squeeze, 2022 is set to be a year of celebration as life returns to normal and key events get back in the calendar. From picnics to get togethers to big night-ins, flavoured milk, cheese, butters and spreads are expected to be the attraction during a number of occasions so it is wise to stock well and wide to milk huge sales.