Dairy industry in Europe - Statistics & Facts

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 45 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.

In the United Kingdom, dairy product manufacturers produced a turnover of almost 8.2 billion British pounds in 2016. Most of the Netherland’s turnover within the food manufacturing sector is generated by dairy processing. The amount was roughly 12.2 billion euros in 2016. In the previous year, the turnover of the Swedish dairy industry amounted to approximately 2.6 billion Swedish kronor. Liquid milk makes up the majority of dairy food produced in the European Union in 2016, with a volume of more than 25 million metric tons. The rest of the European milk was processed into cheese, cream, butter, fresh dairy products and milk powder. In Italy, the annual volume of milk delivered to dairies amounts to approximately 12 million metric tons. In 2017, this milk was produced by more than 2 million dairy cows.

Based on its sales turnover of roughly 24 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, 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 around 18 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 euros in 2017. In the Netherlands, FrieslandCampina is a well-known dairy cooperative. The Netherlands, which are famous for their Edam and Gouda cheese, produced approximately 866 million kilograms of cheese in 2017. With the dairy products brands Müller and Weihenstephan, the Theo Müller Group is the market leader in Germany.

The French cuisine consists, among other foods, of a delicate selection of cheese. To supply other countries with the specialty, 684 thousand metric tons of French cheese were exported in 2016. The Netherlands are sending out most of its cheese to Germany and Belgium. For the United Kingdom, the leading destination of dairy exports in 2015 was Ireland, with a share of 67 percent.

In 2016, an average Finn ate 3.3 kilograms of butter which was close to the European average of 3.8 kilograms per person. France, with 8.2 kilograms, Denmark with 6.4 kilograms and Germany with 6.1 kilograms per capita were consuming the most butter in Europe that year.

Organic products are on the rise all over Europe. Denmark generated a turnover of 377 million Danish kroner with the retail sale of organic cheese in 2017. In Germany, milk is the bestseller among organic products offered in retail stores. Organic milk led to a sales revenue of 265.6 million U.S. dollars, followed by cheese at 174 million U.S. dollars in 2015.

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