Sainsbury’s Dairy Development Group timeline

Milk milestones

From selling our first pint in 1869 to working with 290 farmers in 2015, Sainsbury’s has always been the champion of fresh milk at fair prices. Here’s a walk through some milk facts and click the image for a closer look.

Milk milestones

6-8000BC Humans start domesticating cows (well, aurochs, but who’s splitting hairs?)

1863 Louis Pasteur invents… pasteurisation. Milk would never be the same again.

1869 John James Sainsbury opens a dairy shop on London’s Drury Lane selling butter, eggs… and milk.

1880s The first glass milk bottles (with a snazzy porcelain stopper) hit the UK.

1933 Milk Marketing Board formed in the UK to control milk production and distribution and guarantee a minimum price for farmers.

1941 In wartime Great Britain, an adult’s weekly ration of milk was just 3 pints.

1964 Plastic milk containers introduced.

1975 94% of milk in the UK is in glass bottles. By 2012, this was down to just 4%

1994 Milk Marketing Board abolished, leaving dairy farmers with no guaranteed minimum price.

2007 *The Sainsbury’s Dairy Development Group (SDDG) is born to support the dairy farmers that produce our milk.

“The Sainsbury’s model is good because it helps us to plan and have a secure future in the dairy industry” – William Fox, dairy farmer from Hampshire

2008 The SDDG unveils a state-of-the-art method of measuring farmers’ carbon footprints to find ways to reduce this and help the environment

“The extra income we get as a Sainsbury’s dairy farmer allows us to make the animal’s life that bit more comfortable” – Ian Garnett, dairy farmer from Hampshire

2010 *Nine farmers from Northern Ireland join SDDG

2012 **SDDG farmers agree by majority vote to set the price they’re paid for milk. This ensures that they receive a fair price and is reviewed every three months.

“One of the best things about being part of the group is that I’ve been paid a decent price for my milk” – Richard Hocknell, dairy farmer from Cheshire

2014 ***The milk collection process is changed to make sure that all the milk from SDDG farmers goes into our bottles rather than getting pooled with milk from other farmers and retailers, so we all know where our milk is coming from and that it has the same great quality expected from Sainsbury’s

“The payment scheme is great because Sainsbury’s guarantees to cover our production costs” – James Richardson, dairy farmer from Cheshire

Milk farmer with small child and dairy cows

2015 To keep our calves warm, calf coats are sourced and manufactured, which help improve the cow’s growth rate.

Find out more about the SDDG


*Our 9 Northern Ireland farmers are the only SDDG members that are part of a Co-Operative so don’t receive the Cost of Production (COP) price. They do get the same benefits that the other members of the SDDG get, including vet visits and milk recordings. And they get a bonus for hitting high health and welfare standards.

**97% of our By Sainsbury’s fresh milk comes from the farmers in our Dairy Development group. We always try to buy all of the milk that our farmers produce, but the amount of milk a cow produces is not the same throughout the year. At certain points in the year (particularly in the winter), our farmers don’t produce enough milk so we need to source other milk from other farms. In spring/summer when production is high, we always buy as much milk as we need to meet our customers’ demand.

***Our cream, filtered milk, butter and milk for cheese are not sourced through the SDDG, although they are UK sourced.