Putting old practices out to pasture

Jonathan Dixon, Senior Vice President of Sales for Arla Foods UK, explains how the company shifted its approach to e-commerce through the pandemic.

It might sound clichéd, but the pandemic changed everything. Practically overnight, we saw our foodservice business almost disappear, while demand for dairy soared from our retail customers. These retail sales weren’t just coming from stores however, a large (and growing) proportion came from online channels as three quarters1 of the population bought from a supermarket website during the pandemic.

Although this might sound like a nice problem to have, it created real challenges for our business. We had to shift our production significantly to make more of our popular, larger format products, like our two-litre semi skimmed bottles of Cravendale and our Arla BOB skimmed milk, as entire families that were all locked down together wanted large volumes of milk for their teas, coffees and cereals.

To illustrate the scale of the shift, Cravendale has witnessed a 66.6 perc‑ent year-on-year increase in online sales while Arla BOB has seen an 83.7 percent rise. This is huge for established brands, given that we were already selling millions of litres a year. We needed to adapt, or we risked missing out on a major commercial opportunity.