April 2 2013 08:10 AM

The U.S. tops the charts in cow milk production and dairy processing.


The dairy industry is a global industry, and the U.S. is a key player. India actually produces more Energy Corrected Milk (ECM) than the U.S, but for countries that only count cows milk, U.S. is the top producer. Some countries, such as India, include buffalo milk in their total production.

To get a better grasp on world dairy production, there needed to be a way to standardize and rank milk production between countries. To do this, the International Farm Comparison Network (IFCN) was established in 2000. The IFCN is a global network of dairy researchers from 91 countries. Their main research focuses on milk production, milk prices and dairy farm economics, and their purpose is to get a better vision of milk production world-wide.

The IFCN releases a Dairy Report annually. Thorsten Hemme of the IFCN Dairy Research Center in Germany shared information from that report at the Western Dairy Management Conference in Reno, Nev., last month.

One interesting chart from the report is the ranking of the top milk producing countries. To rank by production, milk was standardized to 4 percent fat and 3.3 percent protein using the ECM formula. India and the U.S. certainly lead the way in milk production, but other countries make contributions, as well.

Rank Country Milk production
(million tons ECM)
1 India 137.5
2 U.S. 84.3
3 Pakistan 41.6
4 China 33.9
5 Brazil 32.0
6 Germany 31.1
7 Russian Federation 30.1
8 France 25.2
9 New Zealand 21.3
10 United Kingdom 14.1
11 The Netherlands 12.7
12 Turkey 12.2
13 Poland 12.0
14 Argentina 11.4
15 Italy 11.3
16 Mexico 11.1
17 Ukraine 10.2
18 Australia 9.8
19 Iran 9.8
20 Canada 8.9
World 721.4

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The U.S. is the top milk processing country in the world. Germany, China, France and Spain round out the top 5. The leading global milk processing company is Fonterra, based out of New Zealand and processor of 3 percent of the world's milk production in 2011. Dairy Farmers of America from the U.S. followed, processing 2.4 percent of the world's milk that year.

Interestingly, based on IFCN data, only 62 percent of the world's milk production is delivered to processing plants. The remaining 38 percent is consumed on the farm or sold informally.

To learn more about the IFCN and the Dairy Report, visit their website at www.ifcndairy.org.