Three of the UK's biggest dairies are to launch a bid to halt the dramatic decline in the volumes of milk delivered to doorsteps.
Co-operative Dairy Farmers of Britain, processor Dairy Crest and Arla Foods division Express Dairies are to unveil a jointly run web site this summer that will enable householders to find details of their local dairy.
The move comes in response to what processors say is growing demand from members of the public who want to have their milk delivered but don't know how to arrange it.
The National Doorstep Customer web site will be launched in the summer and will take the form of a co-ordinated nationwide database. Potential customers will type in their postcode and will be allocated a doorstep delivery service for their area.
As dairies come under downward price pressure from supermarkets, the prospect of increasing sales through the doorstep is ever more appealing.
A pint of milk on the doorstep sells for about 50p, compared with 32p in a supermarket - which means big margins are up for grabs. The fact that dairies sell the milk directly to consumers also makes a big difference to dairies' profits.
Sales of doorstep milk have plummeted in recent years as householders have switched to buying milk in supermarkets. Doorsteps now command just 13% of the market by volume, according to Milk Development Council figures. Ten years ago, that figure was 45%.
Dairy UK director general Jim Begg said research showed that doorstep customers tended to be thirstier consumers of milk - for every ten pints they ordered, people who shopped for milk in supermarkets bought only eight pints.
Richard Clarke