DAIRY SALES saw an uplift during lockdown, as consumers turned to dairy produce for a pick-me-up.
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With many people experimenting with homemade pizza's during Lockdown, Mozarella sales saw a 48% uplift from last year.

According to the latest market data, there has been a significant increase in grocery spend on everything from butter to cheese, with mozzarella the biggest winner of the cheese category during lockdown – recording a 48% uplift in volume sales compared to last year, as more people were cooking pizza from scratch at home.

Overall, cheese has performed well, with retail volumes up 16.5% in the 24 weeks to September 6. During the same period, butter was up 23.6%, with cream stealing the show at 31.8%. However due to category size, milk accounted for three quarters of the volume growth.

These findings were revealed during AHDB’s first in a series of Consumer Insight webinars with a focus on dairy consumption and the changing market landscape.

AHDB consumer insight manager Susie Stannard said: “We all know these are unprecedented times and we have seen massive shifts in buying and consumption behaviours this year as a result of lockdown.

“We have seen dramatic changes in how we cook and feed our families. It is fair to say that Covid-19 has put dairy front and centre in the daily lives of UK households, bringing what is familiar and comforting to existing and new audiences.

“In addition, dairy is the cheapest source of protein and therefore, has performed well during a time of economic uncertainty for many households.”

During the webinar, Ms Stannard was keen to stress that despite the uplift in retail sales, the lockdown had a devastating impact on the food service sector – with the coffee market collapsing overnight as cafes and restaurants closed.

While coffee and tea drinkers took their habits home, leading to more milk being consumed indoors – resulting in an 8% rise in retail milk volumes, other dairy products felt the impact.

This year, 52 million out-of-home occasions for cheese sandwiches were lost with fewer people buying lunch from food service. Burgers lost 183 million occasions and despite strong growth for cheese in the pizza delivery sector, the gains were not enough to offset the losses for sandwiches and burgers.

AHBD policy insight manager Sarah Baker also gave an overview on how economic factors, such as Brexit, will impact the markets going forward.

She discussed the impact of lockdown on the food service and accommodation sector, the rising unemployment rate, the Chancellor’s new job support scheme and the uncertainty of leaving the EU with the end of the transition period looming: “It’s difficult to see what will happen to the UK economy but we know that a trade deal is fundamental to our economy as the EU has been our main trading partner for the last 40 years.

“Leaving the EU alone would have been enough to drive us into recession but now with Covid, we are already there. Whatever happens in the weeks and months ahead, change is coming and UK businesses need to be ready and prepare for a challenging year ahead.”

This week’s Consumer Insight webinars are followed by a second set of webinars, which take place on November 10, 11, 12, and will look at some of the key industry reputational issues impacting consumer demand, such as buying British, the environment, health and animal welfare.

To sign up for the next series of webinars, register here https://ahdb.org.uk/consumer-insight-conference-2020

Highway closures force Okanagan dairy farmers to dump milk as it can’t get to Coast for processing.

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