Can you tell us a little of the history of Lactalis?

The Lactalis story started in London in 1988 with the acquisition of a small importer and packer of speciality cheeses: David Brough Gourmet Foods. The business then became part of a network of commercial subsidiaries in 1993, which was created to develop sales for the company’s products and brands outside its core French market. In 2005, Lactalis purchased A. McLelland and Son Limited; a Scottish based cheese manufacturer with a factory in Stranraer. However, it was following a joint venture in 2006 between the Lactalis Group and Nestle, covering nine European countries, that Lactalis Nestle Chilled Dairy was established in the UK. The evolution continued in 2009 as Lactalis Group integrated Lubborn Cheese Limited into its business and later acquired Rachel’s Dairy Limited in 2010. Today, as the global dairy #1 and the global cheese #1, Lactalis UK is based in Redhill, Surrey, where the commercial and support operations for both Lactalis and Lactalis Nestle Chilled Dairy work closely together.

What brands do you have in your portfolio?

We have an extensive portfolio of well-recognised brands including Seriously®, Président®, Galbani®, Galloway® and Orkney®. Président, the UK’s number one brie brand and Galbani, the UK’s number one Italian Cheese brand, are both having a phenomenal year in terms of salesi. Galbani is growing by +35% and +25% in value and volume sales respectivelyi and Président Brie is growing by +31% in value and +26% in volume sales YOYi. Seriously Cheddar is another bestseller and is growing by +7% in value sales and +11% in volume sales year on year (YOY)i.

How is the dairy market performing?

As household staples, cheese and butter are both currently experiencing total category growth, with cheese sales growing by +11% and +11% in value and volume sales YOY, whilst sales of butter are growing by +8% and +8% YOYi. This growth therefore demonstrates a significant sales opportunity for wholesalers to capitalise on.

What is driving the market?

One of the trends driving the dairy category is that as a result of the ongoing global pandemic consumers have been scratch cooking more, with +44% YOY growth in this type of occasionii. The rise in people baking at home has also had a positive impact on the sales of block butter.

During the first lockdown, we saw consumers seeking out small yet affordable luxuries, like cheese, as an easy way to help brighten up daily life. With another national lockdown being enforced and a recession on the horizon, we envisage that this will continue for months or even years to come, meaning it’s likely that cheese sales will remain higher than they were previously, for the foreseeable future. Therefore, wholesalers should stock up on brands like Président Brie and Président Camembert, or Seriously Spreadable as they appeal to consumers looking for premium alternatives to their usual purchases.

Has Covid-19 affected the performance of the market and of your brands?

Since the beginning of the health crisis, we have seen sales of all our brands grow significantly, in particular during the first lockdown. This included sales of Italian cheeses, such as Galbani Mozzarella (+67% value sales and +45% volume sales year on yeariii) and Galbani Burrata (+268% in value sales year on yeariv). We believe this phenomenal growth was due to a combination of people cooking more and trying to recreate the meals they would have had in a restaurant at home. Whilst sales have since plateaued, we expect that the second national lockdown will further impact consumer spending on dairy products.

How can wholesalers maximise sales of your products?

With an increasing number of consumers now buying more than one type of cheese, wholesalers should be sure to stock a wide variety of flavours and formats to cater for different eating occasions and uses.

What marketing support do you have for your range this year?

In order to keep our brands highly visible, we know we must continue to invest in impactful marketing campaigns and 2020 has been no different. Earlier this year, we put the Seriously brand back on television with a new ad creative to support its unified packaging refresh. We also invested in television sponsorship for both our Président and Galbani brands, which were once again the proud sponsors of the popular Channel 4 cooking show, Come Dine with Me. This high-profile sponsorship is a perfect fit for both brands and has successfully driven brand awareness throughout the year.

What NPD have you launched this year?

This has been an exciting year for us in terms of new product innovation, not only did we launch Président’s first entry into the hot cheese category with Président A La Carte Crispy Bakes with Brie, but we launched our second Seriously hot cheese product called Seriously Nuggets. Both products tap into the growing trend for hot cheese products and appeal to consumers looking for meat alternatives. Président also entered the goat’s cheese market this year, with the launch of Président Goats Cheese Cube in April. All of the NPD launched this year is part of a wider strategy to offer products that make consumers’ lives easier without compromising on taste.

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