Dairymen_Article top image


Sales of plant-based foods surged when Britain first went into lockdown in March.

Meat alternative brand This claims its sales have doubled since the coronavirus outbreak started to develop in the UK, while the mushroom category welcomed 1.2 million new customers in the initial phase of lockdown.

Experts attribute this growth to shoppers seeking out healthy foods, with a recent Mintel survey revealing a quarter of young British millennials (aged 21-30) say the pandemic has made a vegan diet more appealing.

So what did this mean for milk and cheese consumption during lockdown? We commissoned a survey of 2,000 shoppers by Harris Interactive to find out.

Brits could bear to live without milk as Covid-19 took hold in the spring, the survey found. Indeed, only 4% of UK adults didn’t buy it at some point during lockdown. 

And of the 96% who bought milk, 82% picked cow’s milk - suggesting coronavirus hasn’t dampened our appetite for dairy.

Almost a third (29%) bought milk more often than they did pre-pandemic – with younger shoppers, those aged between 18 and 34, most likely to do that. Across regions, Londoners were the most enthused about their dairy fix: about half (49%) increased how much they were buying while housebound.

A further boon for the dairy sector came in the form of cheese. Eighty per cent of Brits ate the same amount or more than before the pandemic. British variants were the most popular, consumed by 52% of all cheese eaters, and the most popular use for all cheeses was, not surprisingly, as a sandwich filling.

DM20_Consumer research graphics_3

DM20_Consumer research graphics_2

DM20_Consumer research graphics_4

These are the sort of figures and facts likely to buoy the UK’s dairy suppliers. And there are more. Only 10% of adults say they buy milk alternatives, for instance, and just 4% buy dairy-free ‘cheese’.

Some numbers, however, may be cause for caution. For example: about half of shoppers aged 25 to 34 are willing to try milk alternatives in the future, and 43% in the same age group say they’d happily buy plant-based substitutes for cheese.

DM20_Consumer research graphics_1 (1)

DM20_Consumer research graphics_5