British consumers drinking more butterfat

Published 26 September 17

Over the last two years, retail sales of skimmed milk in Britain has been falling, with whole milk back in favour with consumers. According to Kantar Worldpanel, skimmed milk volume sales for the 52 weeks ending 16 July 2017 was 7.4% lower than the same period in 2015. Other low-fat milks also saw a decline, while whole milk sales volume rose by 7.2%.

The year-on-year changes given in the chart below show that the move to whole milk, and away from skimmed, is accelerating.

 Liquid sales by fat content Sep17

Semi-skimmed milk continues to be the overwhelming favourite with consumers, accounting for around 60% of overall milk sales (Kantar Worldpanel, 52 weeks ending 16 July 2017). However, British consumers are currently drinking about 2.7k tonnes more butterfat in their milk per year, than they would have done if buying habits hadn’t changed over the last two years.

The move is effectively taking butter and cream off the market, and will be adding to the shortage of butter we’ve seen over recent months. However the impact on the overall fat market is likely to be small. The extra butterfat consumed in milk equates to about 3.4k tonnes of butter per year. That compares with the 72k tonnes of butter that, according to Kantar Worldpanel, British consumers purchased in packet, or block, form in the last year (52 weeks ending 16 July 2017).