Milk slugged it out with more intoxicating drinks to gain recognition as the top convenience line at the Morning Noon & Night conference. Speakers Scottish Courage Brands md Robin Alexander and Robert Wiseman Dairies sales and marketing director Sandy Wilkie pressed their respective cases to delegates. Wilkie called milk the independent retailer's "most important liquid", judging by Harris International Marketing's convenience tracking programme, which said the average milk buyer spends 21% more in a c-store in a year than a non-milk buyer. Wilkie said: "Milk makes a bigger contribution to c-store profits than beers, wines and spirits as it is a repeat daily purchase and driver of add-on sales." But Alexander said independents should extend their beers, wines and spirits range. Off-trade sales have risen 43% to £2.3bn in the last eight years. "And we predict the off-trade for beer will rise from 30% to 50% by 2005. With supermarkets reducing space for beer in favour of non foods, independents will have to take up the slack. "The multiples are winning in every category other than beer, wines and spirits and c-stores can make this booming sector their own." And it is a similar picture for milk, said Wilkie."By 2005 the change in the milk market, from doorstep to shop, which started in 1970s will be complete. We expect to deliver 90% of our milk to retailers." {{NEWS }}