Dairy Crest said half-year turnover and profit has fallen due to the decline in dairy commodity products and its doorstep business, plus the withdrawal from retail milk activity.

The company, which has just bought St Ivel's Utterly Butterly spreads from Uniq to add to its liquid milk to yogurt businesses, posted pre-tax profit of £31.6m for the six months to September 30, down 6.5% on last year’s £33.8m.

Sales dropped to £638m from £692m in 2001.

Chief executive Drummond Hall said: “Overall, we expect profits for the second half of the year to show good progress ... even before taking into account the benefits from the St Ivel spreads acquisition.”