Ambient milk will be a "key growth segment" in the world's developed dairy markets, packaging giant Tetra Pak said today (3 December), as milk processors battle to drive sales in the mature markets of the West.

The company forecast a 0.6% rise in the consumption of ambient milk in the dairy sector's "developed" markets in 2009 - which include countries like France and Spain where ambient milk is popular and markets where chilled reigns, like the UK and the US.

The total consumption of liquid dairy products in developed markets is expected to dip by 1.2% in 2009, according to Tetra Pak data.

The packaging group, which today launched its twice-yearly "dairy index", said processors were using innovation to drive sales of ambient milk.

Michael Zacka, vice president for marketing and product management at Tetra Pak, said:  "In Canada, dairy producers are positioning long-life milk as an attractive product for use at vacation cottages and on camping trips where refrigeration is difficult. In Spain, dairy producers have driven new growth by establishing a new segment in fortified and functional milk."

The global statistics on liquid dairy - both chilled and ambient - are more robust. The worldwide consumption of milk and other liquid dairy products is expected to grow by 1.3% this year, Tetra Pak said.

Emerging dairy markets, which have driven the bulk of the growth in recent years, have seen milk consumption stay strong despite last year's melamine scandal hitting sales in China.

Tetra Pak forecast that global consumption of liquid dairy products will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 2.2% between 2009 and 2012.

In developed markets, ambient milk consumption is expected to hold up, the company said, forecasting a CAGR of 0.7% from 2009 to 2012.