Milk and milk product statistics

Data extracted in October 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: November 2017.

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, 2015
(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, 2015
Source: Eurostat (agr_r_milkpr) and (agr_r_animal)
Figure 2: Collection of cows’ milk by dairies, 2015
(% share of EU-28 total, based on tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mk_pobta)
Table 2: Collection of milk by dairies, 2015
(1 000 tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mk_pobta)
Infographic 1: Utilisation of milk, EU-28, 2015
Table 3: Utilisation of milk and dairy products obtained, EU-28, 2015
(Million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mk_pobta)and (apro_mk_farm)
Figure 3: Utilisation of milk and dairy products obtained, EU-28, 2015
(% and million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mk_pobta)and (apro_mk_farm)
Table 4: Dairy products obtained from milk, 2015
(1 000 tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mk_pobta)
Figure 4: Deflated prices indices for milk, EU-28, 2010-15.png
Source: Eurostat (apri_pi10_outa)

Main statistical findings

Milk production

After five years of a preparatory increase in their level (‘soft landing’ ), milk quotas disappeared on 1 April 2015 [1]. Extreme changes reported from one year to another are rare in the agricultural sector. However, growth in milk production between 2014 and 2015, the year when milk quotas disappeared, resulted from several factors combined: growth of the most productive dairy herds, contraction of the less productive ones, and contrasted national dynamics.

In EU-28, production of raw cows’ milk increased slightly (+0.8 %), the price of farm milk fell and the number of dairy cows remained stable (+0.2 %). Nevertheless, at national level, the dairy herd grew strongly in few countries (+9.9 % in Ireland and +6.6 % in the Netherlands) while it contracted in 18 Member States. Belgium, Denmark and the United Kingdom showed similar, but less marked, growths.

Cows' milk production followed the national herd trends (+14 % in Ireland and +5.3 % in the Netherlands). In many countries, the contractions in herd were compensated by an increase in productivity[2]. Production decreased in only seven Member States. The increase in cow milk productivity was the most spectacular in Greece, where the decrease by 18 % in the dairy cow herd did not impact on milk production, although it concerned a small herd.

The apparent milk yield per dairy cow increased by 1.5 % in EU-28 from 2014 to 2015, almost reaching 6 900 kg per dairy cow. In the Czech Republic, Spain, Hungary and Poland, the apparent milk yield grew by 320 to 420 kg per head, reflecting also development of the most productive farms and the ending of milking activity in the less productive ones, with various national balances.

In 2015, 168.2 million tonnes of milk were produced in the EU-28

In 2015 in EU-28, the farms produced approximately 168.2 million tonnes of milk (Figure 1). Production of cows’ milk was 162.8 million tonnes (96.8 % of all milks produced) while milk from ewes, goats and buffalos represented 5.3 million tonnes (3.1 %). The main part of milk produced was delivered to the dairies (155.1 million tonnes) and the remaining amount (12.9 million tonnes) was used otherwise on the farms (see Figure 1), i.e. processed, own-consumed, sold directly to consumers, or used as feed.

The apparent milking yields per dairy cow varied considerably amongst EU regions

Table 1 displays the NUTS level 2 regions with the highest cows' milk production. Diversity in their level of productivity is reflected by the apparent yield per dairy cow (data on dairy cows only available at NUTS level 1 in Germany and the United Kingdom).

There were stark contrasts in the apparent milk yield per dairy cow at regional level in 2015. It was highest, between 9 000 kg per head and 10 500 kg per head, in several regions of Denmark, Spain and Portugal and in Lombardia (IT) and Thessalia (EL), but with a small herd in the last case. Milk yield was lowest, from 1 200 kg per head to 2 500 kg per head, in five Italian regions.

Amongst the 261 NUTS level 2 regions in the EU, 17 regions accounted for one third of the milk production: Denmark (1), Germany (4), Ireland (1), Spain (1), Italy (2), France (3), the Netherlands (2), Poland (2) and the United Kingdom (1).

Dairies in Germany collected over one fifth of all cows’ milk collected in the EU

Over one fifth (21.0 %) of all the cows’ milk collected by EU-28 dairies in 2015 was collected in Germany, while slightly more than a sixth of the total (16.7 %) was collected by dairies in France (see Figure 2).

In 2015, the volume of sheep, goat and buffalo milk collected was 3.5 million tonnes, 2.3 % of the total milk collection by dairies. Spain was the country that collected the highest quantity of milk from these species (1 004 thousand tonnes), which represented 14.8 % of the total milk collected in Spain. Greece also produced about 678 thousand tonnes of milk from animals other than cows, representing 52.9 % of the total milk locally collected.

In EU-28, Spain (28.5 %), France (21.2 %), Greece (19.2 %) and Italy (17.8 %) collected more than 86 % of the milk collected from these other species (see Table 2).

Milk products

The milk delivered to dairies is processed into a number of fresh products and manufactured products. 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[3].

In 2015, 151.1 million tonnes (97.1 %) of the milk available to the dairy sector was processed (see Table 3). Some 54.1 million tonnes of whole milk (36 % of whole milk) and 14.4 million tonnes of skimmed milk were used to produce 9.5 million tonnes of cheese. Producing 2.3 million tonnes of butter and yellow products required 45.6 million tonnes of whole milk (30 % of whole milk) and generated 42.3 million tonnes of skimmed milk. The skimmed milk generated mainly during the fabrication of butter and cream was used for processing into other dairy products as displayed in Figure 3. Some 16.4 million tonnes of whole milk and 14.8 tonnes of skimmed milk became drinking milk with a similar volume (31.3 million tonnes). Finally, 25.8 million tonnes of raw milk were dried into 2.9 million tonnes of milk powder.

In 2015, as shown in Table 4, the United Kingdom produced over one fifth (22.0 %) of the 31.3 million tonnes of drinking milk in the EU-28, for only one tenth of the raw milk produced. France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland produced 70.0  % of the 9.5 million tonnes of cheese in the EU-28.

Strong decrease in the EU price index for milk

In 2015, the increase in milk production related to the disappearance of milk quotas, led to a marked decrease in the price index for milk. The index went down by 17.2 % compared to 2014 and by 12.4 % compared to the average of the previous 5 years (see Figure 4).

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.


For over 30 years, the EU dairy sector has operated within the framework of milk quotas, which were introduced in 1984 to address the problem of surplus production. The quota system expired in April 2015.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Data visualisation


Main tables

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


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


  1. Milk and milk products - 30 years of quotas:
  2. Short-Term Outlook for EU arable crops, dairy and meat markets:
  3. These three dimensions (quantity of products, quantities of whole and skimmed milk used) reflect the material balance of the valuable milk components, especially content of fat (in whole milk) and protein (in milk used)