Dairy retail sales boomed during lockdown

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Retail sales of cheese, milk and butter grew during lockdown
Retail sales of cheese, milk and butter grew during lockdown

Related tags Dairy

Milk, cheese and butter sales boomed in retail during lockdown as consumers drank hot beverages and scratch cooked at home, new data from marketing campaign, Milk Your Moment has revealed.

The research commissioned from Kantar by the campaign indicated that 2.9bn cups of tea and 1.7bn cups of coffee were drunk over the peak lockdown period – an increase of 21% and 19% respectively. 

However, while retail boomed the closure of the foodservice sector caused undue disruption for dairy farmers. According to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) out-of-home accounts for an estimated 20% of dairy consumption (on a milk equivalent basis). 

Milk-suppliers who struggled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic received Government help​. 

According to AHDB the closure of foodservice hit cheese and butter with both being highly dependent on the eating out market. And while cheese volumes increased through food delivery channels, with some major pizza chains staying open throughout lockdown, some speciality cheeses faced difficulties because of their reliance on foodservice markets. 

However, Kantar’s figures suggest the overwhelming popularity of milk, with 94% of UK households purchasing milk over the last four weeks compared with only 16% buying a dairy alternative.  


Cheese sales also increased in an unprecedented manner, with cheese consumption growing by 48% during lockdown as people made their own sandwiches and lunches and brushed up on scratch cooking. 

Home cooking and the craze for banana bread also caused sales of butter to spike in the week commencing 22 March, with a year-on-year increase of 69% in weekly sales, Kantar reported. 

The Milk Your Moments campaign is a partnership between the AHDB, Dairy UK and a number of dairy processors, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive. 

Dairy UK chief executive Dr Judith Bryans said: “Clearly when it mattered most, consumers turned to the foods they know, trust and enjoy when they were in the height of lockdown. 


“We all came together to make this campaign happen and we should be incredibly proud how it’s created positivity for dairy and increased awareness around mental health issues, during such an uncertain time. 

“We should also see it as a starting block because we need to talk to our consumers on an ongoing basis.”  

Rebecca Miah, AHDB head of dairy marketing, said: “The Milk Your Moments campaign was hugely important, to not only support our industry in difficult circumstances, but to give back to our loyal consumers in a time of national crisis. 

“Understanding that dairy has such a crucial part to play in human connection as well as nutrition is a real step change for the dairy industry, and we should continue to be proud of our importance to society, with these strong growth numbers demonstrating the fact”.  

The research commissioned by Milk Your Moments is from Kantar and covers the eight weeks from 17 May 2020.  

Earlier this year, Dairy UK backed calls to improve the supply chain​ while facing the impact of coronavirus. 

The coronavirus’ dairy industry impact prompted calls for immediate help for farmer suppliers in the face of a “national catastrophe”​.

The industry was badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic resulting in a £1M support campaign​ being launched.

Related topics COVID-19

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