Milk and milk product statistics

Data extracted in October 2015. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: November 2016.

This article is part of a set of statistical articles based on the Eurostat online publication "Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics". It presents information and statistics on milk and milk products in the European Union (EU).

Figure 1: Production and use of milk, EU-28, 2014 (1)
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mk_pobta) and (apro_mk_farm)
Table 1: Production of cows’ milk on farms at national and regional level, by level of production, 2014
Source: Eurostat (agr_r_milkpr) and (agr_r_animal)
Figure 2: Collection of cows’ milk by dairies, 2014
(% share of EU-28 total, based on tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mk_pobta)
Table 2: Collection of milk by dairies, by country, 2014
(1 000 tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mk_pobta)
Table 3: Utilisation of milk by dairies, EU-28, 2014 (1)
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mk_pobta)
Figure 3: Utilisation of whole milk, EU-28, 2014 (1)
(%)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mk_pobta)
Table 4: Dairy products obtained from milk, 2014
(1 000 tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mk_pobta)

Main statistical findings

Milk production

Farms across the EU-28 produced approximately 164.8 million tonnes of milk in 2014, of which 159.6 million tonnes (or 96.8 %) were cows’ milk. Milk from ewes, goats and buffalos represented 3.2 % of the total production. The majority of the milk produced on farms was delivered to dairies and the remaining amount was used on the farms (see Figure 1).

Between 2013 and 2014 the production of cows’ milk on farms in the EU-28 increased by almost 5.8 million tonnes (3.8 %), while the number of dairy cows increased by 0.4 %. The EU-28’s dairy herd of 23.6 million cows in 2014 had an estimated average yield of 6 777 kg per head (see Table 1).

Average yields of milk per cow varied considerably between regions of the EU Member States in 2014. The apparent yield was highest between 8 400 kg and 9 600 kg per cow per year in the most productive regions of Italy, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. By contrast, the apparent yield was relatively low between 2 750 kg and 3 600 kg per head in the most productive regions of Romania and Bulgaria, where milk production was typically less specialised.

The diversity of landscapes and climatic conditions within some EU Member States often helps explain regional specialisations as regards dairy farming pasture, which is generally grown in lowland areas with a temperate climate.

Cows’ milk production on farms in 2014 was highest (across NUTS 2 regions of the EU) in Bretagne (France), Southern and Eastern Ireland and Lombardia (Italy), reaching 5.59, 4.64 and 4.63 million tonnes respectively (see Table 1). Southern and Eastern Ireland (with 896 thousand head), Bretagne (France) (with 751 thousand head), Mazowieckie (Poland) (with 489 thousand head) and Lombardia (Italy) (485 thousand head) recorded the highest number of dairy cows in 2014. Note that each NUTS 2 region has a different land area and that the count of animals is influenced to some degree by the size of each region, as well as the propensity of certain regions to specialise in dairy farming. Note also that the data on the numbers of dairy cows for Germany and the United Kingdom are only available for NUTS 1 regions (which cover larger areas of land).

The rise in milk production results from the ‘soft landing’ policy introduced by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to minimise the impact of the removal of the EU milk quotas (see ‘Milk and milk products - 30 years of quotas’). The soft landing implemented an annual increase in milk quotas by 1 % over 5 consecutive years from 1 April 2009.

Just over one fifth (21.2 %) of all the cows’ milk collected by EU-28 dairies in 2014 came from Germany, while slightly more than a sixth of the total (17.1 %) originated from dairies in France (see Figure 2). Dairies collected relatively little milk from other animals (sheep, goats and buffalos) in most EU Member States. However, in Greece the volume of milk collected from other species (669 thousand tonnes) was higher than the level of milk collected from cows (615 thousand tonnes). In Italy and France the quantities of milk collected from other animals were similar to Greece, but these volumes were dwarfed by the respective quantities of cows’ milk that their dairies collected (see Table 2). Spain was the country that presented the highest quantity of milk from other animals (1 120 thousand tonnes), which represented 14 % of the total milk collected in Spain.

Milk products

The milk delivered to dairies is converted into a number of fresh products and manufactured dairy products. Some 68.8 million tonnes of raw milk were used to produce 5.5 million tonnes of cheese in the EU-28 in 2014, while 31.0 million tonnes of raw milk were turned into a similar amount (30.4) of drinking milk. 23.1 million tonnes of raw milk were converted into 2.5 million tonnes of milk powder and 43.9 million tonnes of whole milk were used to produce an estimated 2.2 million tonnes of butter as well as associated skimmed milk and buttermilk. This explains why the amount of ‘whole milk’ used for producing butter was higher than the ‘total’ milk used.

Close to a quarter (24.3 %) of the estimated 30.4 million tonnes of drinking milk produced in the EU-28 in 2014 came from the United Kingdom, despite this Member State accounting for only about one tenth of the milk produced in the EU-28. This relative specialisation was also observed for other dairy products: for example, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands accounted for almost three quarters (70.3 %) of the 5.5 million tonnes of cheese produced across the EU-28 in 2014.

Data sources and availability

Milk and milk product statistics are collected under Decision 1997/80/EC, implementing Directive 1996/16/EC. They cover farm production and the utilisation of milk, as well as the description (structure), collection and production activity of dairies.

Due to the small number of dairy enterprises, national data are often subject to statistical confidentiality. Thus, providing EU totals in this context is a challenge and some of the information presented in the analysis is based on partial data for the Member States (which may exclude several countries); each exception is clearly footnoted under the tables and figures presented. On the one hand, statistics from these few enterprises provide early estimates on trends. On the other, a complete overview of the dairy sector requires detailed information from farms and this means that the final figures on milk production are only available at an EU level about one year after the reference year.

Dairy products are recorded in terms of weight. It is thus difficult to compare the various products (for example, fresh milk and milk powder). The volume of whole or skimmed milk used in the dairy processes provides more comparable figures. In such a system, some volume of used skimmed milk may acquire negative values. For instance, production of cream uses whole milk and generates skimmed milk the production of cream is thereby expressed in relation to the quantity of used whole milk and a negative quantity of skimmed milk. Whether this skimmed milk is then used by another process or kept as such, it will be recorded as a positive quantity of used skimmed milk.

Context

For over 30 years, the EU’s dairy sector has operated within the framework of milk quotas, which were introduced in 1984 to address problems of surplus production but expired in April 2015. Until then, each EU Member State had two quotas: one for deliveries to dairies and the other for direct sales at farm level. Milk production data were used for signalling imbalances in the market that, if serious enough, would trigger public intervention (of butter and skimmed milk powder) and/or private storage. When national quotas were exceeded, punitive ‘super-levies’ were recovered from the farmers or dairies involved.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Data visualisation

Publications

Main tables

Agricultural production (t_apro)
Milk and milk products (t_apro_mk)

Database

Agricultural production (apro)
Milk and milk products (apro_mk)
Fat contents and protein contents (cow's milk) - annual data (apro_mk_fatprot)
Milk collection (all milks) and dairy products obtained - annual data (apro_mk_pobta)
Cows'milk collection and products obtained - annual data (apro_mk_cola)
Cows'milk collection and products obtained - monthly data (apro_mk_colm)
Production and utilization of milk on the farm - annual data (apro_mk_farm)
Dairies structure - triennial (apro_mk_str)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

Other information

  • Commission Decision 1997/80/EC of 18 December 1996 laying down provisions for the implementation of Council Directive 96/16/EC on statistical surveys of milk and milk products (Text with EEA relevance)
  • Directive 1996/16/EC of 19 March 1996 on statistical surveys of milk and milk products

External links