Milk and dairy products are important sources of protein, iodine, calcium and several other vitamins and a daily intake is of high importance for many Europeans. In fact, approximately 47 million metric tons of fresh dairy products are consumed annually in the European Union. To be named a dairy product, food must be produced from the milk of cows, goats or similar animals. The dairy sector includes food such as milk, milk powder, cheese, butter and yoghurt as well as ice cream.
Based on its sales turnover of roughly 25 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, the Swiss company Nestlé is the worldwide market leader in dairy manufacturing. The two French dairy corporations Lactalis and Danone follow right after, each with a revenue worth more than 15 billion U.S. dollars. The Danish-Swedish dairy company Arla Foods is also among the 20 largest dairy manufacturers worldwide and generated a sales turnover of approximately 10 billion U.S. dollars in 2016. In the Netherlands, FrieslandCampina is a well-known dairy cooperative. The Netherlands, which are famous for their Edam and Gouda cheese, produced approximately 889 million kilograms of cheese in 2015. With the dairy products brands Müller and Weihenstephan, the Theo Müller Group is the market leader in Germany.
In 2015, an average Finn ate 3.3 kilograms of butter which was close to the European average of 3.8 kilograms per person. France, with 8 kilograms, Germany with 6 kilograms and Iceland with 5.8 kilograms per capita were consuming the most butter in Europe that year.
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