Sales of probiotics add lift to traditional milk sector

UK - Growth in the retail milk sector is being led by the growing popularity of fermented milk drinks containing probiotic activity and omega-3 oils which appeal to an increasingly health conscious society, according to Liz Broadbent, Milk Development Council marketing director.
calendar icon 15 November 2006
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Speaking at a conference on dairy innovation at Leatherhead Food International last Thursday (2 November), Ms Broadbent said the popularity of drinks like Yakult and Danone's Actimel were "good news for milk producers" as they helped lift sales in the entire sector. Evidence was also emerging, she said, that the introduction of branded milk was also helping to increase sales of fresh milk - both on a national scale through brands such as Cravendale and on a regional basis by small producers selling locally.

Ms Broadbent explained the recent surge in popularity of these drinks was due to a number of factors. First, the baby-boomer generation is increasingly focusing on health as they seek to extend the "middle years". Second, research revealed that consumers generally perceive their health as poor. Along with organic food these people believe milk-based drinks will help improve their health. Third, convenience.

Consumer trends

However, UK producers could, she said, capture more value if they reacted quicker to changes in consumer trends. The latest example being the increased popularity of soft cheeses, but because of producer reluctance to take risks the supermarkets are forced to look abroad to meet demand, said Ms Broadbent. "We need to be quicker at getting our act together in the future," she said.

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