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The EU remains the worlds largest producer of cows milk, with Ireland accounting for 5% of total EU milk production. These latest statistics were included in a presentation from DG Agriculture’s dairy expert, Brigitte Misonne at a seminar titled, “European Dairy Sector: Opportunities and Challenges” organised by the Polish Permanent Representation in Brussels earlier this month.

ICOS was one of the many co-operative organisations in attendance. The detailed presentation includes some very interesting figures and represents a good snapshot of the EU dairy sector.

Here are some of the key statistics:

  • The EU is the world’s largest producer of cows milk. The bloc of 27 member states were responsible for producing 20.7% of global milk supply or 154.1 million tonnes of milk in 2021.
  • Other significant world producers include India (108.3mt), USA (102.6mt), China (37.3mt) and Brazil (36.4mt), making up the rest of the top 5 milk producers.
  • Most of the milk produced globally is consumed locally, for example, virtually all of India’s milk output is consumed domestically, with the actual traded element in the region of 70 million tonnes of milk equivalent.
  • Notably, the EU is also top dog when it comes to the global export trade in dairy products and ingredients. The EU exported 20.85 million tonnes in milk equivalent in 2021, equating to 31.1% of the global trade.
  • New Zealand are next in line with virtually all their milk production exported to regions like China, SEA and MENA. NZ accounted for 20.21 million tonnes in milk equivalent or 30.2% of the global trade in 2021. The United States makes it into the top 3 exporters alongside the EU and NZ. The US were responsible for 9.39 million tonnes milk equivalent traded or 14% of the export trade in 2021.
  • Germany and France are the main producers of milk in Europe, with German and French supply at 31.9 million tonnes and 24 million tonnes respectfully in 2022. Ireland’s total milk supply in 2022 equates to over 5% of total EU milk output.
  • In line with the rise in global commodity prices in 2022, the value of EU milk production increased by 36% year on year to over €72.3 billion. EU milk production remained stable in 2022, against a backdrop of record milk prices and soaring farm input costs.
  • Notably, feed costs (the main cost factor in the EU) are no longer increasing. Raw milk prices increased steadily for two years, reaching 56 c/kg but the outlook has changed rapidly and there is a much more challenging horizon in 2023. EU milk supply has increased each month from September 2022 and food inflation is hitting demand for dairy products.