Retailer price wars have seen the average price paid for milk fall in recent years and consumers can now pick up for a four pint bottle for as little as 89p. However, new research from Mintel reveals that consumers would actually be prepared to pay more for the white stuff.

Whilst 85% of Brits drink standard cow’s milk*, half (51%) of those would be prepared to pay more than £1.00 for a four-pint bottle of milk, whilst on average, users would be willing to pay £1.28 for a bottle of this size, which usually retails at 89p-£1.00.

And it seems the market could do with drawing more money out of milk sales, with retail value sales of white milk predicted to have declined by 5%, from £3.49 billion in 2013 to an estimated £3.34 billion in 2014. Furthermore, the market is expected to fall further in 2015 to £3.26 billion.

UK retail value sales of white milk are predicted to have declined by 5% from 2013 to 2014

Despite a fall in value sales, volume sales of white milk are expected to have stagnated at 5.11 billion litres between 2013 and 2014.

Richard Ford, Senior Food Analyst at Mintel, said:

“Value has been torn out of the UK milk market in recent years as a result of the grocery retailer price wars but products such as fortified milk and milk from grass-fed cows could help operators build value back into the market. There is scope for operators to move away from the relentless price cuts in the milk industry without alienating shoppers.”

Furthermore, Mintel’s research shows that despite a fall in value sales of white milk, within white milk, there are pockets of strong growth. Value sales of fresh lactose-free milk have risen 18% in the past year from £22 million in 2013 to an estimated £26 million in 2014, whilst sales of fresh dairy alternatives have risen by 31% from £48 million in 2013 to an estimated £63 million in 2014.

One in 10 (10%) Brits has used soya milk*, whilst 7% have used other plant-based milks such as almond, rice or oat milk, 5% have used a lactose-free cow’s milk and 4% have used another animal milk such as goat’s or buffalo milk. And it seems that use is not limited to those with intolerances, indeed, soya milk is used by 8% of those who use chilled standard cow’s milk, while 6% use other plant-based milks.

Indicating an increased focus on non-dairy by manufacturers and retailers, one in four (23%) launches in the UK dairy drinks and milk market were rice, nut, grain and seed-based drinks in 2014, compared to just 2% in 2011. Furthermore, indeed, white dairy milk launches accounted for just one in three (34%) launches in 2014.

“The low share of white dairy milk launches despite the segment’s sales dominance reflects the limited scope for product development whilst also highlighting the fast growth in launches of dairy alternatives. As the market matures, the range of drinks made with more unusual seeds, grains and nuts is likely to expand with products using ingredients such as spelt and quinoa, such products already being available in international markets.” Richard added.

Finally, it seems there is substantial consumer interest too in further development of products with added nutrients: over a quarter (27%) of milk, milk drinks or creams users say they’d be interested in trying milk with added vitamins, for example Vitamin D, whilst 25% would be interested in trying milk containing more calcium than normal. What’s more, 27% say they would be interested in trying milk from cows that have only been fed grass or hay, rising to over a third (34%) in the South West of the country.

* three month’s to February 2015

Press review copies of the Added Value in Dairy Drinks, Milk and Cream UK 2015 report and interviews with Senior Food & Drink Analyst, Richard Ford, are available on request from the press office. 

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