Promotions and the popularity of new low-fat milk brands have helped retailers sell 50 million extra litres of milk in the past year.

Volume sales of milk are up 1% year-on-year to five billion litres [TNS 52w/e 19 April] while the market is worth £3.5bn, up 11% on the previous year. The rising popularity of 1% and filtered milks had helped boost sales in a mature category, said TNS analyst Drummond Richards. "We have seen some real innovation in 1% milks," he said. "This growth is quite a significant change for a generally static sector."

The rollout of a number of milk brands, such as Robert Wiseman's Fresh'n' Lo, had given supermarkets more options for price discounting, Richards added, with numerous promotions over the past year.

The higher price of milk at retail also helped explain the 11% rise, said a source. A four-pint carton in July averaged £1.51, 5% higher than in July 2008 [DairyCo].