World milk production (roughly 81% cow milk, 15% buffalo milk, and 4% for goat, sheep and camel milk combined) increased by 1.1% to about 887 million t in 2021, primarily driven by an expansion in output in India and Pakistan. . Milk production in the three major dairy exporters, New Zealand, the United States, and the European Union varied from a marginal to modest increase to a slight decline, respectively. Increases in dairy world trade were mainly driven by strong demand in the People’s Republic of China (hereafter “China”), the world’s largest importer of dairy products.
Overall, per capita consumption is expected to increase 0.4% p.a. to 21.9 kg (milk solids equivalent) by 2031 in high-income countries compared to 2.0% p.a. (21.2 kg) and 1.5% p.a. (5.4 kg) in low-middle income and low-income countries, respectively.
World milk production is projected to grow at 1.8% p.a. over the next decade (to 1.060 billion tons in 2031), faster than most other main agricultural commodities. Over half of the increase in total milk production is anticipated to come from India and Pakistan, which will jointly account for over 30% of world production in 2031. Production in the second largest global milk producer, the European Union, is expected to grow at a slightly higher rate than Oceania but more slowly than in North America as a result of EU policies targeted to sustainable production, the expansion of organic production, and pasture-based production systems.
Policies to address GHGs could have a significant effect on dairy farming in regions with high stocking densities, notably in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany. On the other hand, these pressures could lead to innovative solutions improving productivity and competitiveness in the long term. The global level of GHG emissions will largely depend on efficiency gains in India and other countries with high cattle population and extensive production.
World per capita consumption of fresh dairy products is projected to increase by 1.4% p.a. over the coming decade, slightly faster than over the past ten years, primarily driven by higher per-capita income growth. The level of milk consumption per capita (in terms of milk solids) will vary largely worldwide. Country income per capita and the impact of regional preferences will be important factors driving this variation. In high-income countries, per capita consumption is expected to increase 0.4% p.a. to 21.9 kg (milk solids) with the majority of consumption consumed in the form of processed products and of which stronger growth is expected. Conversely, in low-, and lower-middle income countries the majority of production is consumed in the form of fresh dairy products, where per capita consumption is expected to increase 1.5% p.a. (5.4 kg) and 2.0% p.a. (21.2 kg), respectively.
World dairy trade is projected to expand over the next decade to reach 14.2 million t in 2031, 15% higher than during the base period. The growth rates vary across dairy products with the strongest growth at 1.7% p.a. for SMP, 1.6% p.a. for cheese, 1.5% p.a. for whey powder, 1.3% p.a. for butter and 0.9% p.a. for WMP. Most of this growth will be met by increased exports from the United States, the European Union and New Zealand. These three countries are projected to jointly account for around 65% of cheese, 71% of WMP, 74% of butter, and 80% of SMP exports in 2031. Australia, another exporter, has lost market shares although it remains a notable exporter of cheese and SMP. In the case of WMP, Argentina is also an important exporter and is projected to account for 5% of world exports by 2031. In recent years, Belarus has become an important exporter, orienting its exports primarily to the Russian market due to the Russian embargo on several major dairy exporters.
China is expected to continue to be the world’s major dairy importer, especially for WMP with imports from China projected to represent 21.6% of global imports in 2031. Per capita consumption of dairy products in China is relatively low compared to traditional markets, but there have been significant increases in demand over the past decade, with growth projected to continue. Most of its dairy imports are sourced from Oceania, although in recent years the European Union has increased its exports of butter and SMP to China.