In the past year, the total category rose 6.5% to £328.2m, with growth driven predominantly by NPD in the kids' probiotic sector and strong performances from healthier adult offerings, particularly from products that carry a strong heart health message such as Flora and Benecol.
Actimel from Danone remains the bestseller. Valued at £107.9m, the brand is still a long way ahead of its nearest rival, Müller Vitality, but lost ground with a drop of 5.4%. In contrast, Vitality powered forward to post sales of £42.2m, a 30.1% year-on-year increase.
In third and fourth places, Benecol and Flora also showed impressive sales growth, up 12.4% and 77.6% respectively. Poor old Yakult - the sector's pioneer - suffered a 16.1% drop, despite a substantial advertising spend, as competition and rivals' flavour options increased.
Nestlé has reason to feel chuffed as its Ski Up & Go breakfast drink entered at 10th place.
While Actimel's performance was disappointing when compared with a significant uplift the previous year, its new kids' offering has fared well so far. Launched in April, it has clocked up sales of £1.4m and entered this year's top 20 table at number 11.
The children's arena proved a popular one, as big names aimed to challenge for a bigger share of this growing market. Own-label probiotic and straight drinking yoghurts aimed at children already account for £194m sales between them. Müller added a Little Stars sub-brand to its menu, including a yoghurt drink. This has got off to a flying start and already features as the 12th bestselling dairy drink.
It has not all been plain sailing for Müller, though. It ditched its Light Drinking Yoghurt after less than six months, amid suggestions the newcomer had cannibalised market share of its Vitality line. But it increased its promotional activity 50% this year, which helped to drive the market as a whole.
Flavoured milk rose 8.5% to £394m boosted by healthy growth from the top three brands. Frijj continues to top the pile, followed by Yazoo. Superlife was the only top five brand to record a drop in sales.n