Dairy Crest has said that total sales of its key brands dropped during the first quarter of this year.

In a statement released ahead of the group’s AGM today (16 July), Dairy Crest said overall branded sales were down 4% in the three months to 30 June. The company emphasised that it was coming up against tough comparatives, with branded sales having grown by 15% in the comparable year-ago period.

The UK dairy manufacturer said it was able to grow Cathedral City and Clover revenues ahead of the market during the quarter. However, these gains were more than offset by a drop in Country Life and Frijj sales as the company reduced promotional activity.

Dairy Crest said it had remained focused on improving efficiency and profitability during the three month period. 

As Dairy Crest CEO Mark Allen told just-food in a recent interview, the group is attempting to shift its ingredients business up the value chain. The company confirmed it has now decided to invest in its Davidstow creamery to convert it to produce demineralised whey powder, an ingredient used in infant formula. The company did not provide details of when this investment is expected to come online.

Looking to its dairies business, Dairy Crest said it has seen continued improvements in its cost base and is making progress towards its mid-term 3% cost reduction target.

Click here to read Mark Allen’s thoughts on Dairy Crest’s shift to higher margin products and efficiency drive.