Firm credits a move by consumers to supporting local during the pandemic as it topples the soft drink to become Scotland’s favourite.
It’s a prize the family has been eyeing for some time now – with even the children egging them on.
Now Graham’s The Family Dairy is celebrating becoming the number one Scottish food brand, overtaking Irn-Bru for the first time.
Its shift in status was calculated using Kantar’s ‘Brand Footprint’ metrics which rank businesses according to which products are chosen off the shelf most often and by the most shoppers.
In March, Robert Graham, managing director of the family firm, which is based in Bridge of Allan and has a second plant in Nairn, spoke of the challenges posed by the national lockdown in trying to meet surges in demand.
The firm has since reported that sales of butter alone doubled during lockdown, helping propel the brand to the number one spot.
Of today’s news, managing director Robert Graham said: “We are absolutely delighted to be named Scotland’s most chosen brand; both no. 1 Food Brand and no. 9 global brand in Scotland, it is an amazing achievement. We are grateful to all our wonderful customers, choosing to buy our locally produced Scottish dairy products from our family business, rather than our international competitors.
“People have increasingly sought our local, great tasting Scottish dairy products that they understand and trust. We believe that the consumer’s desire to support brands who are local and have the provenance they can trust, has further accelerated since Covid-19. This will continue to be increasingly important as we move forward.”
The news will be particularly welcomed by company chairman Robert Graham Snr, who revealed after the business celebrated its 80th birthday last year, that his granddaughter had chided him for drinking Irn-Bru, believing it was hampering the business in its bid for the top spot.
Speaking last year, he said: “We’ve worked our way up to being Scotland’s no. 2 brand. Irn-Bru is no. 1 and my granddaughter, Holly, told me, ‘Papa, you need to stop drinking Irn-Bru because if you keep drinking it we’ll never be no. 1.’ We’re not far away – we’re within touching distance and I’m so proud of that.”
He also credited his daughter Carol’s suggestion of changing the company name, just over decade ago, with helping strengthen the brand, adding: “At that time we were Graham’s Dairies Ltd and Carol didn’t think the name was right – she felt it sounded too big and was taking away from the family aspect. There was quite a discussion at the time but she wanted to change the name to Graham’s The Family Dairy. When we did sales rocketed; people responded to the name and our family values.”
The makings of a no. 1 brand
The business has come a long way since the early days when a young Robert Graham would do the milk deliveries around Bridge of Allan with his father on the back of a horse and cart.
The opening of Stirling University in 1967 brought an influx of people from all over the UK and beyond, and a new demand for pasteurised dairy products, prompting the family to invest in pasteurising equipment – which proved to be money well spent.
The machine put the business ahead of the curve in Scotland, positioning it perfectly for the arrival of the supermarkets.
A decade ago, Graham’s invested in a dairy plant in Nairn where local produce, including milk, cream and yoghurt, is prepared for market.
Today, the company is Scotland’s largest independent dairy business with annual sales of around £109 million.
The firm launched a new Kefir range, a cultured, fermented milk drink similar to yoghurt, earlier this year, in addition to their Skyr yoghurt, and Goodness ice cream ranges. It has also recently moved back to providing milk in glass bottles, along with doorstep deliveries in response to changing consumer demand.