The consumption of dairy products has increased during the pandemic, with experts cautiously optimistic about the future of the UK dairy market.
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Participants in the Dairy-Tech Online Dairy Market Overview were told of an increase in dairy sales during the lockdowns. Pic: Getty Images/brebca

Speaking during the Dairy-Tech Online Dairy Market Overview session this week, Jonathan Dixon from Arla Foods, explained how more people working from home had resulted in a rise in dairy sales.

“Consumers have turned to dairy in times of crisis,”​ he said.

“The grocery market is booming with a huge upturn and a total food growth of 10%. On the flip side, the food service sector has seen a downturn with the tough lockdowns.” ​

He said dairy has increased because of consumers looking after themselves more during lockdown and spending more time at home.

“Cheese consumption has risen by 15.7% with more people eating cheese at lunch. Yogurt sales have risen by 4.1% and butter by 16.1%, particularly block butter sales, due to more people home baking.” ​

Rob Hutchinson, operations director for Müller, said the company had seen strong retail sales during the pandemic.

“Cereal consumption is up 8%, which is good for milk sales. The challenge now is to maintain the level of consumption as we come out of lockdown​.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about the market outlook. The markets recovered after March last year and the global stock position is lower than we expected coming into this year, which is a good position to be in.” ​

The exception is cream, which is seeing a big mismatch in the price compared to the EU. This is largely because of Brexit and the extra export health certificates now required when exporting fresh products, like cream.

Hutchinson added, “We hope to see the situation improve as there’s no doubt this is having an impact on the cream price.”

Arla Foods is examining how dairy farming can help improve soil biology, carbon capture, water quality and biodiversity via regenerative farming methods.

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