New milk contract wins and branded growth continue to boost Dairy Crest's fortunes.

Milk sales to major retail customers have risen 10% in the past six months compared with the same period last year, the company revealed this week.

New contracts with The Co-operative Group and Lidl have underpinned the sales growth, as did 1%-fat milk and the 'Jugit' concept of selling milk in environmentally friendly bags.

A focus on cutting debt, investing in brands and lowering costs was key to its performance, said chief executive Mark Allen.

The company's current borrowings were below March levels rare in the dairy trade, where seasonal rises in cheese production and stocks can lead to higher first-half borrowings.

Dairy Crest said Clover had taken market share with its new packaging and advertising, while Country Life and St Hubert Omega 3 had also grown their share.