Market intelligence company Mintel found that over half of surveyed consumers would be willing to pay more than £1 for a four-pint bottle of milk.
While this amount of milk typically retails at between 89p and £1, the study revealed that on average consumers would be willing to pay £1.28.
Meanwhile, an AHDB Dairy study showed an even stronger response than Mintel’s, suggesting that around 80% of people would pay more.
Head of marketing and communication Amanda Ball explained: “According to the AHDB Dairy Quarterly Tracker, conducted by YouGov, an overwhelming majority of consumers would be willing to pay more for milk if dairy farmers were to receive all the additional money.
“The latest wave of the tracker, conducted between 17th – 19th April 2015, sample size 2100, identified that four out of every five consumers are willing to pay more for a four-pint bottle of milk. And of these, almost a quarter say they would pay over 20p more.”
"Quite a surprise"
The results of the survey are positive against a backdrop of falling white milk retail value.
Sales are expected to drop to £3.26bn in 2015, having stood at £3.49bn in 2013.
Richard Ford, senior food analyst at Mintel, told DairyReporter.com: “It was quite a surprise that around half are willing to pay more. Prices have been coming down to attract people to stores, so it asks the question whether that level of price cutting is needed.”
Ford believes added value milk could be a solution: “Value has been torn out of the UK milk market in recent years as a result of the grocery retailer price wars, but products such as fortified milk and milk from grass-fed cows could help operators build value back into the market. There is scope for operators to move away from the relentless price cuts in the milk industry without alienating shoppers.”
The Mintel research supports this, with value sales of lactose-free milk rising 18% in the past year, and fresh dairy alternatives rising 31% from £48m in 2013 to an estimated £63m in 2014.
It’s not only those who require free-from products who are diversifying their purchases either, according to Ford.
“People seem to be interested in expanding their repertoire, and not just people suffering from allergies. This suggests to us that there’s scope for that in the future,” he added.