Milk it

In an economic downturn consumers tend to stick with what they know, according to Sandy Wilkie, sales and marketing director at Robert Wiseman Dairies. “Milk is a prime example, with our sales remaining consistent.”

He says the one, two and three litre sizes of its Black and White range in whole and semi skimmed and two litre sizes of skimmed are key lines for wholesalers. As are its The One, 1% fat product and Puriti, its extended shelf-life milk.

“Low fat and extended shelf life milk are both continuing to see growth. The One, the UK’s first 1% fat milk, has become one of our biggest success stories to date. Volume sales of low fat milk are up 11% year-on-year (TNS 52 w/e 19 April). The One has also benefited from an endorsement by the Food Standards Agency as a healthy option for those who want to cut down on their saturated fat intake.”

And Pritchitts head of foodservice, Brian Kyle, reports that his company is doing even better than last year.

“A lot of caterers are asking ‘how can I make the same dish and cut costs’,” he says. “They can make cost savings by using milk powder for instance, where they can save up to 50% versus using fresh milk. It’s a good alternative as it is not to the detriment of the dish. In addition products like our Creative Base save chefs time as it cuts out the whole base making process.”

Kyle says cash and carry is the smaller part of Pritchitts Features > Business, compared to wholesale, but it is growing because of cash pressures on caterers. “If they use a cash and carry they don’t need to make a minimum order, they can just buy what they need,” he says.

For wholesalers, the company has a promotional calendar set up across the whole year. “We have ‘ra ra’ days where we are pushing products through but we also do promotions. Buy two get one frees work well but we are putting more focus on link promotions. For instance with 3663 we are linking our cream with mince pies for Christmas.

When it comes to cheese, although Cheddar dominates the UK cheese market, Chris Chisnall, sales and marketing director at Bradbury Son, reckons wholesalers and cash and carries need to be more adventurous and stock other cheeses too.

“There are six key lines in continental cheeses – brie, edam, parmesan, camembert, mozzarella and feta. These account for 70-80% of continental cheese sales.

“Edam and brie are more your everyday cheeses while camembert is more for special occasions.

“However a lot of wholesalers play safe and just stick to cheddar, but even with cheddar there is room to be a bit more adventurous. You can stock farmhouse cheddars, for example, from smaller artisan makers. This would offer great added value for foodservice operators for menus and cheeseboards.

“We offer our own basic range called Simply Cheese and that’s selling well to retailers and caterers. It’s a price-fighting range that includes mild and mature Cheddar, Red Leicester and Double Gloucester.

“We also have Go Dutch, our rindless edam and gouda. We launched it into retail in May and it’s going really well – we have listings in all the major multiples. Now we’re working on distribution to the independent and foodservice trades.”

Bel UK says that its Mini Babybel 6s, Mini Babybel 2 Go and Leerdammer Slices are key lines for wholesalers.

Rosie Tapp, innovation and research manager at the company, says: “Wholesalers should aim to free up space for the most popular brands, such as Mini Babybel and Leerdammer, that will drive sales for retailers. It is also important to segment the sector correctly and make sure it is laid out logically. For example, speciality cheeses should be clearly separated from snacks and spreads.”

In butter, block butter and spreadables continue to dominate in the convenience sector. Lurpak Spreadable 250g is the number one SKU in the convenience sector, so it should come as no great surprise that Arla’s top seller in the wholesale sector is the 12 x 250g Lurpak Spreadable.

Victoria Tate, category manager for the convenience sector at Arla Foods, says: “In the current climate, when neither retailers nor consumers want to spend more than they have to, case sizes are important. Larger sizes, like 500g packs, are not the best choice for smaller stores with limited chiller space.”

When it comes to promotions Tate says: “One of the keys to success is pre-sells at cash and carry level, encouraging depot managers to phone round their key customers to pre-sell promotional offers, which helps to move volume and control stock.”

Dairy Crest’s key products for cash and carries and wholesalers are Clover, Utterly Butterly, Country Life and Cathedral City cheese. “These brands are performing exceptionally well across the market and in the convenience channel,” says William Pritchard, the company’s customer marketing manager. He adds that the company is currently looking at activity in the cash and carry/wholesale sector.

TV advertising is maintaining yogurt’s high profile. This month Danone is adding an additional boost to its Activia functional yogurt brand with the launch of a single pot, fat-free version, supported by a pound;3.5m marketing campaign which includes heavyweight TV and outdoor advertising.

The product will come in 165g pots, in four flavours: strawberry, cherry, raspberry, and peach.

Senior brand manager Angela McGee explains: “The single pot format will appeal to younger consumers, mainly 25- to 45-year-olds, as it fits in with their busy lifestyles. The single pot is perfect to grab and go when consumers may not have time to consider multipacks or just need a quick lunch or snack fix. The new pack format will also appeal to people who like to pick and mix flavours rather than buy multipacks of one or two variants.”

M uuml;ller has supported its brands with a pound;30m spend this year. Its most recent product launch was of a smooth toffee variant added to the Muller rice range. This comes in shelf-ready trays of 12 x 200g pots.

Meanwhile a new TV campaign for the recently relaunched M uuml;ller Healthy Balance Corner range is currently on air, supported by press advertising and on-line activity.

While M uuml;llerlight – the biggest-selling fat free yogurt brand in the UK (Nielsen data) – is being supported with advertising in women’s and slimming press through to the end of November.


=== m Uuml;ller merchandising drive ===

M uuml;ller has launched a merchandising campaign to grow sales in c-stores. More than 12,000 ‘Grow Your Sales with M uuml;ller’ packs are currently being distributed to independent retailers, and they have until November 1 to enter the M uuml;ller chiller incentive competition, where they can win one of three cash prizes for creating the best yogurt and pot desserts chiller display.

Colin Smith, sales director at M uuml;ller UK, says: “The yogurt and pot desserts category is showing good levels of growth and it represents a massive opportunity for convenience stores. It’s not unusual for c-stores with well-managed chillers to be selling around 330 pots of yogurts and desserts a week, while those which don’t give the category the attention it deserves will be averaging just 30-40 pots per week. There’s a huge potential for them to be increasing their sales 10-fold.”

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