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Top 10 dairy drinks by value
Top 10 dairy drinks by value  
  Value (m) % change
Cravendale 149.9 1.5
Alpro 138.5 9.6
Freshways 60.3 12.0
Wiseman 53.4 -37.6
Lactofree 50.6 5.1
Watson Dairy 38.5 -3.0
Dairy Crest 22.4 -34.7
Yeo Valley 21.1 -20.7
Oatly 19.7 80.0
Graham's 18.8 8.4
Source: Nielsen, 52 w/e 29 December 2018    

Own-label flavoured milks are performing strongly, which is a threat to brands playing in the 'commoditised' segment of the category - namely chocolate, strawberry and banana flavoured milks.

Brands offering value added benefits and functionality to meet specific shopper needs are enjoying the strongest growth, says Nielsen analyst Vanessa Pollard. Alpro, for example, is tapping the growing plant-based trend for vegan and dairy-free alternatives.

Starbucks added a whopping £9.5m to value sales in 2018 - making it the fastest-growing brand in flavoured milks. It claims its bestselling Starbucks Chilled Classics Caffè Latte alone accounted for nearly a fifth of total spend on chilled coffee last year.

Emmi and Jimmy's have also enjoyed double-digit growth thanks to the scorching summer, which helped boost iced coffee sales to new heights in 2018.

Shaken Udder is also performing strongly - with value and volume sales up by over 80% - reflecting growing demand for premium dairy drinks. 

Yazoo has made some big distribution gains in both grocery and convenience. It claims its limited edition Choc Mint launch racked up £1m in sales in the first five months, driving both penetration and value.

Frijj has looked to reduce its reliance on promotions and started targeting convenience and foodservice with a new long-life recipe.

Dairy drinks value sales
Dairy drinks value sales  
  Value (m) % change
 Active Health Drinks   260.2 -2.4
 Flavoured Milk   170.1 8.7
 Syrups and powders   28.3 -3.3
 Dairy Alternative   22.0 29.5
Branded 409.3 3.4
Own label 104.7 4.8
Source: Kantar Worldpanel, 52 w/e 4 November 2018    

The dairy drinks category has benefited from 3.7% growth in the past year, which has been mainly driven by price increases (2.7% year on year) and shoppers buying more often.

All occasions of dairy drink consumption are also in growth, with snacking gaining 13 million occasions vs 2017, and growing at 89%. Breakfast also remains a key area of focus, gaining just over six million occasions.

Flavoured milk was the main sector driving growth (up 8.7% year on year), with iced coffee within this seeing the strongest year-on-year performance.

The hot weather last year helped iced coffee sales double in size from £2m in the four weeks of January to £4.1m in the four weeks of July 2018.

Despite this, overall dairy drinks are performing behind total soft drinks (3.7% growth vs 9.6% growth), suggesting potential for other sub-sectors to capitalise on summer peaks.

Consumers still perceive dairy drinks to be 54% less refreshing than other drinks in the market, which could explain why performance has lagged behind soft drinks overall.

Increases in average price were seen across the board, helped by less promotional activity (44.6% value on deal last year vs 43.7% this year). Dairy-based smoothies saw the biggest price increases (31.7% year on year), partly due to premium kefir launches and other premium brands increasing their prices.

The popularity of kefir has grown over the past year, with over 900,000 shoppers now buying. This is likely due to wider availability across the major retailers - with an increasing number of manufacturers launching their own kefir variants - and its perceived health credentials.

Despite the category remaining heavily branded (79.6% spend share), both brands and private label saw promising growth of 3.4% and 4.8% respectively, with branded dairy drinks attracting new shoppers to the category.