The tide on the 30-year decline in milk consumption could be turning, says the UK's Milk Development Council (MDC) .
"The past 24 months has seen a bottoming-out then increase in sales, recovering an estimated 230 million litres from the commodity market into the valuable liquid retail market," claims the farmer-funded body, that says the increase could be worth £4 million (€5.82m) to Britain's dairy farmers,
Rather than putting the rise down to a "colder-than-average winter", TNS that carried out the research, points to the significant rise in sales of branded milks helped by new promotions and marketing.
"This justifies the industry's recent moves to ease up on generic promotions just telling people to drink milk and instead target specific products at specific groups," comments Liz Broadbent, director of market development at MDC.
The MDC's latest campaign, for example, is specifically targeted at teenage girls - a slice of the population believed to be at risk from osteoporosis in later life.
Calcium intake is important during adolescence as this is considered a key period for the formation of bones and protection against osteoporosis later in life.
However research by the industry body suggests that only one out of four girls is eating at least three portions of dairy products daily.
Health-orientated dairy products in particular are proving popular across the UK multiples, also bolstered by high advertising spend, while traditional dairy commodities - own-label milk for instance - are failing to maintain such a high-profile retail presence.
In addition to the sales boost from targeted branding, TNS found that hot drink and porridge consumption contributed significantly to improved figures for 2004, with sales up 25 per cent for porridge; tea and coffee increased by around 17 per cent and eight per cent respectively.
Looking to bolster sales in the next year, Broadbent insists that the dairy industry must continue to preserve with strong targeted brands, notably to influence the non-milk drinkers.
"They account for around half of the population but consume only a quarter of the volume. Generic advertising simply doesn't work with this group - they have no prior experience or nostalgia about milk so we need to give them the reasons why it has a place in their lives," she said.
And flagging up health positions, the UK dairy council recently submitted a dossier of evidence to the UK's Joint Health Claims Initiative to assess whether dairy foods could carry health claims referring to their benefit to bone health.