Dairy Crest has ditched its St Ivel Gold range following declining sales as consumers switch from man-made spreads to what they see as healthier natural butters.

Dairy Crest began phasing out the range last month, The Grocer can reveal. Sales of the brand have slumped in the past few years, plunging from £12.9m in 2006 to £3m in the past year [Nielsen]. "Dairy Crest decided to cease manufacturing and will focus on Clover, Country Life and Utterly Butterly," a spokeswoman said.

Last year, sales across the spreadable butter category were up 22.3% to £257.1m, making it the biggest and fastest growing butter and spreads sector, according to TNS [52w/e 23 March 2008].

Value sales of dairy spreads, including margarine, rose 5.2% to £161m. However, this was down to price increases, as volume sales of margarine fell during the same period.

Dairy Crest acquired the St Ivel portfolio from Uniq in 2002. It added an Omega-3 enriched variant in 2005.