The yellow fats market is up just 1.6% to £895.7m. It's a slower rate than last year and several factors played a part. These include traditional butter's shelf space being grabbed by other dairy lines such as functional drinks, the hot summer and increased use of olive oil .

Price promotion has not helped either. However, consumers' willingness to pay a premium for quality is keeping the market in growth.

Growth is fastest in the better-for-you and functional sectors, such as low fat, Omega-3 and cholesterol-lowering products, and several big brand names have been busy spreading the health message.

Unilever UK Foods hitched Flora to the Omega-3 bandwagon by developing lines featuring the healthy fatty acids, including a Flora Omega-3 Plus spread.

Boosted by the newcomer, the top seller had a good year, rising 4.4% to £184.6m.

Lurpak, number two brand behind Flora, kicked off the year with the launch of an unsalted product, the company's biggest innovation since Lurpak Lighter in 2001. The total brand clocked up £173.4m-worth of sales, an increase of 6.8%.

In third place, Anchor butter increased sales by 2.8% to £75.2m as brand owner Arla splashed out, backing the brand with a £4m marketing push, its biggest UK campaign yet.

There has been little movement in the top 20 rankings but, while managing to retain their places, some brands have really struggled.

At number 14, sales of Vitalite dropped 22.5% to 5.4m, while in 12th spot St Ivel Gold was down 19.5% to £11.5m.

It was also a bad year for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, with sales sliding 9.3% to £30.7m. In sixth place, Country Life showed strong growth, up 10.3% to £43.2m.

The Dairy Crest brand benefited from a controversial summer print ad campaign, which stuck the knife into rival Anchor butter by flagging up it is transported from New Zealand whereas Country Life is produced here.

Sales of Yeo Valley Organic also jumped, albeit from a smaller base.

It rose 51.9% to just over £4.4m, boosted by the brand's first television campaign. n