NFU chief food chain adviser Ruth Mason looks at moves to make milk an ‘on the go offering’.
During the past few months we’ve seen a number of retailers look at new ways of positioning milk and dairy products in store. Individuals and organisations from across the agricultural industry have been urging retailers to make milk available to consumers to buy as an ‘on the go offering’.
‘Food to go’ is the term used for food and drink that is purchased from supermarkets but eaten outside of the home, for example sandwiches, salads, crisps and soft drinks. These lunchtime ‘grab and go’ sections are commonplace in most retailers, but not yet the discounters – although this may change as their market share grows.
By offering shoppers a milk in the ‘food to go’ areas, retailers get an additional position to sell and customers are encouraged to think about the different times and ways they can drink milk. So far we have seen Asda, Co-op and Tesco introduce milk into their ‘to go’ areas. These products range from one pint retailer branded bottles to branded Cravendale mini bottles. Initial sales of these products are going well – particularly with kids – as people are reminded of the nutritional benefit of milk.
Innovation has the potential to unlock sales as consumers see there are new and exciting ways to eat or drink products. Our horticulture team has recently launched the Fit for the Future report, which suggests ways in which fruit and vegetables can be positioned to increase overall sales through the use of vouchers, deals and showcasing health benefits. It’s really good to see the same thing happen at retail with dairy products.
Ther’s a wealth of opportunities for innovation in milk-based drinks, with iced coffee taking market share away from energy drinks and the messaging around milk for sport and as a hydrator helping increase interest in athletes and the health conscious. It’s key that the British dairy industry is involved in this drive for new innovation and category growth.
These initiatives need to be rolled out further into meal deal offers in stores like Boots, WH Smith and Greggs. It can easily be taken further than milk – yoghurt and cheese also offer huge scope for product innovation. The cost and imagination doesn’t have to be extreme, simply offering a spoon or bitesize cheese portions could offer increased sales opportunities.
Who knows, we could see coffee shops stocking milk alongside, or in place of, fruit juice and fizzy drinks. I challenge you all to grab a bottle of British milk with your cheese sandwich for a nutritious and hydrating lunch!