Think dairy and you immediately think milk, after all it is the number one top-up mission product in convenience, according to Him’s Convenience Tracking Programme. Müller Wiseman sales and marketing director, Sandy Wilkie, says therefore it is important to ensure that the milk fixture is well stocked and can cater for every taste. "A modern milk fixture should have ’the complete solution’ offering a range of products similar to that of the major multiples to meet the demands of a varied customer base. The key issue is availability and display of milk in-store. It is essential that customers can see exactly what is available and that the display is set out to reflect optimum sales."

Wilkie adds that the challenge for retailers and dairy companies is to encourage consumers to see milk as an ’on-the-go’ drink option. "The Müller Wiseman 250ml range of products is ideal for retailers to place in the sandwich or soft drinks fixture. These lines are a great solution as a delicious and nutritious ’on-the-go’ option and are the perfect size to grab at lunchtime or when out and about," he says.

Premium-priced Cravendale stepped into the food-to-go fixture last year with the launch of a 500ml PET bottle in whole, semi-skimmed and skimmed variants. Originally only available in Waitrose and Ocado, the size is now stocked by Palmer & Harvey.

Moving onto butters and spreads, and an ’everything in moderation’ approach to eating as well as the boom in home baking have been good news for the market. Stuart Ibberson, business unit director at Arla Foods, explains: "More consumers are taking a more holistic view on health. Rather than just counting calories or looking at the saturated fat content, they’re now paying more attention to exactly what is included in a product and, as a result, don’t necessarily deem low fat as a healthy option if it’s packed full of e-numbers, additives, preservatives and stabilisers. As a result, many consumers are now switching away from these products into the more natural and taste-led sectors such as spreadables and block butter because they trust these products more and know they can deliver a quality product. Another trend we’ve seen develop over the past few years is scratch cooking and home baking, which has been prompted by the ever-growing number of cooking programmes shown on TV. Aside from the many TV celebrity chef shows, reality shows such as Come Dine With Me and Masterchef have made cooking more accessible to a lot of consumers and given them added confidence in the kitchen. This coupled with the growing number of people choosing to cook from scratch to save money, has helped boost cooking at home even further still."

As a result, Ibberson recommends that forecourt retailers stock both Anchor and Lurpak brands.

Unilever’s Flora is another key brand as it’s worth £177m in value sales (IRI) and accounts for over 14% of the butters and spreads category. It has delivered sales of £177m in the past year and has over 50% penetration in UK households. The brand was the subject of a £12m marketing campaign and rebranding exercise last year that saw the return of the Flora sunflower modernised for today’s shopper to remind consumers of the natural goodness of sunflowers found throughout the Flora range.

Pots of profit

On to sweeter products, and Müllerlight continues to grow its share of the yogurt market with an increase in volume sales of over 10% in the past 12 months (Nielsen). Limited-edition designer pots were launched last year and more are expected this year.

Greek-style yogurt is all the rage and Müllerlight Greek Style rose to the top of the Greek yogurt market in the UK after just 11 months. Selling over 125 million pots, equating to over £50m in retail sales, its contribution now means that the overall Müllerlight brand has reached its highest-ever retail sales value of £162m (Nielsen).

Despite the popularity of products like Mullerlight, Müller Dairy’s marketing and R&D director Michael Inpong, says that a staggering 43% of convenience store retailers don’t stock yogurts or chilled pot desserts when they should be ’must-stock’ lines.

"The concern over potential wastage and a perception that these products won’t sell in stores are the main barriers to stocking. However, following a few basic rules on range, such as focusing on stocking the best sellers, should enable retailers to sell stock well within the shelf-life of all Müller products.

"Almost two-thirds (60%) of chilled yogurt and pot dessert sales in convenience stores come from the top 10 brands with Müller Corner, Müllerlight, Müller Rice, Amoré and Cadbury chilled pot desserts accounting for five of the top 10 brands. We recommend that forecourt retailers stock the best sellers as the base range and then, depending on store location and the shopper profile, tailor their range to suit the shopping missions of customers visiting their store."

Jon Rodriguez, channel manager for convenience at Yoplait UK, advises that forecourt retailers focus on breadth of range rather than depth, and make sure that all segments within chilled yogurts and desserts (CYD) are covered.

"Forecourt retailers need to make sure that they focus on the key CYD manufacturers such as Yoplait, Muller and Danone and avoid too much own label. Own label may offer slightly higher margins but it does not give shoppers confidence. Shoppers want brands that they recognise and with space being limited, retailers need to make it work for them."

Rodriguez also advises that retailers focus on smaller pack sizes and avoid large multi-packs.

"They also need to consider price-marked packs (PMPs). Currently we supply Wildlife Choobs (the UK’s number one kids CYD portable) in £1 PMPs and Peppa Pig (the UK’s number one kids CYD licensed pot) in £1 PMPs.

"Both of these are showing huge growth. They are great value at £1, which shoppers like, and they allow retailers to compete with the multiple grocers on price which gives the shoppers confidence. By stocking these two products retailers would have the kids sector covered with a pot and a portable."

Yoplait have a two-tier promotional strategy when it comes to convenience. The first is ’high-low’ which focuses on brands such as Petits Filous, Frubes and Weight Watchers.

Yoplait regularly promotes these products at a reduced price point such as £1 or at half price. The second tier is EDLP (everyday low pricing) £1 PMPs that are available 52 weeks of the year.

Rodriguez explains: "We find that many retailers will only list certain lines when they are on promotion but this causes confusion and disappointment with shoppers, as there is no consistency of range. It also means that a retailer’s sales are very sporadic and it’s hard for them to manage stock levels.

To combat this Yoplait developed a strategy in 2010 to drive awareness of its PMPs as the £1 PMP is available 365 days of the year.

"We have a mission that all convenience stores in the UK will stock one kids’ pot and one kids’ portable (ie Wildlife Choobs and Peppa Pig). It’s a mission that’s slowly working as sales have grown strongly.

"Recently we launched Moshi Monsters Big Pots £1 PMP. Kids love Moshi Monsters and the bigger pot size is great for older children."

To help forecourt retailers, Yoplait supplies its PMPs in convenience friendly half cases.