The National Dairy Council said that despite difficulties in the grocery sector last year, sales of milk and dairy products were sustained or even improved.

More people are now cooking at home, and this is reflected by a 4.9 percent increase in sales of cream. The volume of milk sales was up 1percent, although the value of the sales was down 4.9 percent.

Sales of butter declined 2 percent but returned to a positive position by the end of the year.

The council said that the sales value of branded health spreads fell by 11 percent, reflecting increased promotional and reduced price activity. The cheese category grew marginally in volume over the year, with the value of the cheese category falling by 5.2 percent.

Yogurt recorded a 3.4 percent decrease in volume in the first half of 2009 which reduced to 0.4percent by the end of the year.

The National Dairy Council's CEO Helen Brophy said the overall price fall for all food was 7.8 percent, but dairy held its value better than many other categories.

Commenting on the campaign to promote milk produced in the Republic, Dairy Council chairman Dominic Cronin said the newly introduced trademark brings much clarity to consumers in the south about where their milk has been farmed and processed.

Meanwhile, Minister Brendan Smith has said that each dairy farmer in Ireland will get about €580 from an EU fund to help them following the severe fall in milk prices last year.

Ireland is to receive €11.5 million from €300 million available to support dairy farmers across the EU.

Smith is to allocate the money on a flat-rate basis after consulting with people in the dairy sector. He said that this payment would be a welcome boost to dairy farmers, who have experienced serious difficulties over the past year.