British consumers are strong supporters of dairy products and demand for dairy foods is increasing globally. In the UK, routes to getting dairy products involve the dairy industry working with retailers, wholesalers, caterers, institutions such as hospital and schools, food processors and others. Only a small proportion of the industry’s total output is sold direct to the consumer by dairy companies via the doorstep delivery service or through local markets.

Retailers & Market Penetration


The overwhelming majority of consumers buy milk and dairy from major retailers and discounters.

Dairy products can be found in almost every household in the UK. This gives the dairy industry one of the highest degrees of market penetration of any consumer product and makes dairy foods extremely important to the health and wellbeing of the nation.

  • 98% of people regularly eat or drink dairy products (2011 - 99%).
  • 93% of people regularly consume fresh milk (2011 – 95%).
  • 90% of people regularly consume cheese (2011 – 94%).

Maintaining consumer confidence and trust in the healthfulness and wholesomeness of dairy products is at the heart of all industry activity.

(Source: 2012 telephone survey for The Dairy Council and DairyCo)

Doorstep Delivery


Doorstep delivery, which stands at less than 5% of the liquid market, still remains a favourite with millions of consumers.

The industry sells around 1 million pints of milk per day direct to the consumer in returnable glass bottles. The sector is being driven by an increasing demand for convenience amongst consumers and a significant degree of innovation in the type of services and products made available to the consumer.

Dairy UK helps to market the doorstep delivery service to consumers through the Find Me a Milkman website at

School and Nursery Milk

The industry pays careful attention to the school and nursery milk market as it helps to cultivate consumption habits that last a lifetime.

The EU and the UK authorities also provide support for milk consumption at this age. Free milk is available to under-fives in registered nurseries. Subsidised milk is available for pupils in primary and secondary education.

Ingredients Sector

This covers the use of milk products as an ingredient in food processing.

This can range from biscuits, cakes and confectionery to ready-made meals. It is an enormously diverse sector and the fragmented nature of this market means that little data is available. This sector continues to grow as consumers eat more processed and prepared foods.

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