Milkmen gotta lotta bottle during lockdown

Business is booming for dairy doorstep delivery as consumers opted to bottle it during lockdown, says new AHDB analysis.

According to Kantar, traditional milkmen skimmed an additional 190,000 housebound customers from February to June as retailers struggled to stock shelves with essential dairy items such as milk, butter and cheese, with many services forced to close to new customers as demand outstripped supply. Though numbers have fallen back slightly as restrictions have lifted, many customers have retained the service, at 671,809 in mid-August compared to 526,876 in February, a 27.5 per cent rise.

The pandemic has also brought a new demographic to doorstep delivery. Traditionally, the milkman customer is older and more-affluent. However, lockdown brought in younger couples and families, which account for 46 per cent of milk bought by new customers compared to pre-lockdown, where only 21 per cent of milk was bought by younger customers. There is an opportunity for the industry to attract and retain new customers in these demographics by emphasising its environmental credentials, such as non-plastic packaging and the use of electric floats for distribution.

graphAHDB consumer insight manager Susie Stannard said: “Higher prices compared to supermarkets has always been a limiting factor for mass uptake of doorstep delivery but the pandemic means all bets are off, with consumers willing to pay more for convenience and safety.

“As restrictions tighten once more and many areas face local lockdown, there is clear potential to develop the market further for milk and other essentials.”

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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.