Milk and milk product statistics
- Data extracted in October 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: November 2018.
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).
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
- 7 Notes
Main statistical findings
After five years of a preparatory increase in their level (‘soft landing’ ), milk quotas disappeared on 1 April 2015 . Extreme changes reported from one year to another are rare in the agricultural sector. However, the milk production grew in the EU-28 between 2015, the year when milk quotas disappeared, and 2016. This resulted from a combination of several factors: growth in the most productive dairy herds, contraction of the less productive ones, and different national dynamics.
In 2016, the production of raw cows’ milk in the EU-28 remained relatively stable, with only a slight increase (+0.2 %). Similarly, a slight decrease was observed in the number of dairy cows (-0.4 %). At the same time, the price of farm milk fell. At national level, the dairy herd grew in Cyprus (+8.7 %), Luxembourg (+5.8 %) and Ireland and the Netherlands (both +4.5 %). High decreases were reported in Latvia (-5.2 %), Estonia (-5.0 %), Lithuania (-4.9 %), Slovakia (-4.8 %) and Greece (-4.5 %). In 7 Member States, the dairy herd remained relatively stable, with increase or decrease of less than 1 %.
The production of cows' milk generally followed the trends in the national herds, with strong growth in the Netherlands (+5.9 %) and Ireland (+4.0 %) although production decreased in twelve Member States.
In several countries, the reductions in the dairy herds were compensated by an increase in productivity. The apparent milk yield per dairy cow in EU-28 increased by 0.6 % (40.2 kg/head), reaching 6 941 kg per dairy cow in 2016. The apparent milk yield grew strongest in Estonia (452 kg/head). Slovenia (426 kg/head), Latvia (380 kg/head) and Spain (374 kg/head). Only 7 Member States reported decreases, the largest in Greece (-309 kg/head) and Portugal (-229 kg/head).
In 2016, 168.3 million tonnes of milk were produced in the EU-28
In 2016, the farms in the EU-28 produced approximately 168.3 million tonnes of milk (Figure 1). Production of cows’ milk was 163.0 million tonnes (96.9 % of all milks produced) while milk from ewes, goats and buffalos represented 5.4 million tonnes (3.1 %). The main part of milk produced was delivered to the dairies (157.1 million tonnes) and the remaining amount (11.2 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 presents 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 are 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 2016. It was highest in Lombardia (IT) with 9 870 kg per head, followed by Midtjylland (DK) with 9 533 kg/head, Pohjois-ja Itä-Suomi (FI) with 9 009 kg/head and Småland med Öarna (SE) with 8 836 kg/head. The milk yields were lowest in the region Yuzhen tsentralen (BG) with 3 117 kg/head, Nord-Est (RO) with 3 396 kg/head and Kontinentalna Hrvatska (HR) with 4 534 kg/head .
Dairies in Germany collected over one fifth of all cows’ milk collected in the EU
Over one fifth (20.9 %) of all the cows’ milk collected by EU-28 dairies in 2016 was collected in Germany, while slightly more than a sixth of the total (16.0 %) was collected by dairies in France. Thereafter followed by the United Kingdom (9.6 %) and the Netherlands (9.4 %) (Figure 2).
In 2016, the volume of sheep, goat and buffalo milk collected was 3.7 million tonnes, corresponding to 2.4 % of the total milk collected by the dairies. Spain was the country that collected the highest quantity of milk from these species (970 thousand tonnes), which represented 12.4 % of the total milk collected in Spain. In France, 777 thousand tonnes of milk from animals other than cows were collected, representing 3.1 % of the total milk locally collected. In third place was Greece with 748 thousand tonnes, representing 55.4 % of the total milk locally collected.
In EU-28, Spain (26.0 %), France (20.8 %), Greece (20.0 %) and Italy (17.6 %) collected more than 84 % of the milk collected from these other species (see Table 2).
The milk delivered to dairies is processed into a number of fresh 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.
In 2016, 152.2 million tonnes (96.8 %) of the whole milk available to the dairy sector was processed (see Table 3). Some 55.8 million tonnes of whole milk (37 % of whole milk) and 16.6 million tonnes of skimmed milk were used to produce 9.6 million tonnes of cheese. The production of 2.4 million tonnes of butter and yellow products required 45.8 million tonnes of whole milk (30 % of whole milk). This process also generated 43.0 million tonnes of skimmed milk. This skimmed milk, generated mainly during the fabrication of butter and cream, was used for processing of other dairy products as displayed in Figure 3. Some 16.7 million tonnes of whole milk and 13.6 tonnes of skimmed milk became drinking milk, with a total volume of 30.7 million tonnes. Finally, 21.0 million tonnes of raw milk were dried into 2.8 million tonnes of milk powder.
In 2016, as shown in Table 4, the United Kingdom produced more than one fifth (22.0 %) of the 30.7 million tonnes of drinking milk in the EU-28. France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland together produced 70.0 % of the 9.6 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. This development continued in 2016. The index went down by 5.8 % compared with 2015 and by 15.9 % compared with the average of the previous 5 years (2010-2015) (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.
- Agricultural census 2010 — includes links to articles for the EU, for individual EU Member States as well as EFTA countries
- Agricultural production - animals
- Meat production statistics
- Milk and milk products – 30 years of quotas
- Agricultural production - crops
- Agricultural production - orchards
Further Eurostat information
Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics — 2017 edition (Statistical book)
- Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics — 2016 edition (Statistical book)
- Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics — 2015 edition (Statistical book)
- Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics — 2014 edition (Statistical book)
- Portrait of the EU milk production sector - Statistics in focus 17/2013)
- Agriculture (t_agri), see:
- Agricultural production (t_apro)
- Milk and milk products (t_apro_mk)
- Agriculture (agri), see:
- 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)
- Milk and milk products (apro_mk)
Methodology / Metadata
- Livestock and meat (ESMS metadata file — apro_mt_esms)
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- 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
- European Commission - Agriculture and rural development
- European Commission - Agriculture and rural development – milk and milk products
- Milk and milk products - 30 years of quotas:http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Milk_and_milk_products_-_30_years_of_quotas
- 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)