Popularity of porridge helps milk beat the dairy-dodgers

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The Independent Online

It has sponsored football tournaments and bicycle races, starred in a succession of advertising campaigns and boasts some of the healthiest credentials that a drink has to offer, but it seemed nothing could halt the 30-year decline in sales of milk.

It has sponsored football tournaments and bicycle races, starred in a succession of advertising campaigns and boasts some of the healthiest credentials that a drink has to offer, but it seemed nothing could halt the 30-year decline in sales of milk.

Until, that is, the revival of an old-fashioned breakfast cereal rescued it from the dairy produce doldrums. Milk sales have just recorded their first sustained increase since the 1970s and the foodstuff being credited with reversing this trend is porridge.

Milk sales bottomed out and started to rise in the past two years, with an extra 230 million litres being sold annually, according to a three-year research project by the Milk Development Council (MDC). A 25 per cent rise in the consumption of porridge over the winter and increases of about 17 and eight per cent of tea and coffee are behind the recent recovery. in milk sales. Flavoured milks and health campaigns aimed at teenage girls - who are at increased risk of osteoporosis if they don't consume enough calcium - have also pushed up sales.

But one group stands in the way of milk's rehabilitation. "Dairy dodgers", typically more affluent groups, single professionals and young parents who missed out on free school milk, account for half the population but consume only a quarter of all milk sold. "They don't have a milk drinking habit," said Liz Broadbent, of the MDC. "They have no prior experience or nostalgia for milk so we need to give them reasons why it has a place in their lives."

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