Dairy in Retail

Dairy is a powerhouse category for retailers.
Consumers buying more of one type of dairy food are likely to increase their spending across the entire dairy case, showing consumer’s strong interest in the category.
(IRI Primary Research Study, June 2020)

Milk in an Undeniably Dairy glass sits on a table with a bottle of milk, a small cow figurine, and some decorative greenery.

Category Growth

Dairy category dollar growth has outpaced the dollar growth of the total store throughout the pandemic thus far. All dairy products show positive 2020 year-to-date growth at retail, both in volume and dollars. These products saw the greatest volume increases in 2020:

  • Butter (+21.6%)
  • Cream (+18.3%),
  • Sour cream (+12.9%)
  • Cheese (+13.1%)

(IRI custom dairy database, Total US Multi Outlet + Convenience, 2020 YTD 12/27/20)

Retailer Resources

Midwest Dairy is a brand agnostic, checkoff organization funded by dairy farmers. Our primary objective is to grow the entire dairy category by providing shopper insights and research to guide and support retail initiatives such as shelf optimization and shopper marketing programs.

Resources available to retailers:

  1. Learn what consumer behavior is impacting the dairy category.
  2. Subscribe to our monthly dairy data analysis to get insights on volume trends, consumer behavior and go-to market dairy strategy.
  3. Participate in quarterly webinars to explore dairy-related topics in more depth and learn how to turn these insights into action.
  4. Click here for examples of dairy retail activations we’ve done with partners in the past!

The Dairy Opportunity

These large segments within the dairy category are drivers of retail:


Milk has a 94% HH penetration and drives almost 30 annual trips per buyer.

With 20% of consumers reporting they are purchasing milk more often, milk is benefiting from the resurgence of at-home baking and cooking

On average, baskets with milk have an average dollar ring of $80.85 (up +15% vs. YA).


Cheese contributed more than half of retail dairy dollar growth in 2020.

Cheese volume at retail has been driven by more usage occasions at home: snacking and as an ingredient in home cooked meals.

The popularity of charcuterie boards and sampling vehicles (e.g. Advent Cheese Calendars) have driven interest and consumption in cheese.

Wine and cheese pairings have brought two high dollar basket drivers together for retailers to leverage.


Snacking is on the rise. In 2020, consumers clung to familiar, affordable and health-focused snacking options like yogurt.

Consumer interest in immune health and gut health are on the rise.

Multi-serve and Blended Yogurt have driven category growth in 2020.

Sources: IRI custom dairy database, Total US Multi Outlet + Convenience, 2020 YTD 12/27/20; IRI Custom Research; Center for Food Integrity; Mintel; Kantar.