World Milk Day!

More than 700 000 000 000 kilos of milk is produced every year in the world, and we consume around 100 kilos per person per year on average. Studies show that consumption of milk and low-fat dairy products help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases and disorders. There is even evidence that babies born to women who consume cheese and other dairy products during pregnancy are likely to have better dental health than babies born to non-dairy-consumers. And at the beginning of this dairy chain that puts the milk and cheese on your table there is a cow, and a farmer.

Dairy foods are nutrient-rich and provide nine essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D, B12, riboflavin and niacin. Dairy foods not only help children and adults build healthy diets, they also contribute to healthier lives. In fact, studies show dairy foods, as part of a healthy diet, improve overall diet quality, may help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and hypertension, and can help maintain a healthy weight.

Dairy and the heart

Preventing high blood pressure and improving heart health are important throughout life. Accumulating scientific evidence suggests that small changes in lifestyle, including diet, can have a beneficial effect on blood pressure. Research also shows that dairy foods may affect blood pressure and overall heart health.

Consuming a healthy diet which includes three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods a day is one approach that may help achieve and maintain a healthy blood pressure, which in turn lowers the risk of developing heart disease.

Dairy and bone health

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that consuming adequate amounts of calcium or foods naturally rich in calcium such as milk, cheese and yogurt throughout life may delay or minimize age-related bone loss and thereby decrease the risk for osteoporosis.

Dairy and healthy weight

A growing body of research illustrates that enjoying three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt each day as part of a nutrient-rich, balanced diet may help maintain a healthy weight. Multiple observational studies show that people who consume more calcium and dairy foods weigh less and/or have less body fat than those who consume little or no dairy.

A study published in the Nutrition Journal examined the importance of calcium in the development of a fetus. The researchers  wanted to find the long-term effects of prenatal cheese and dairy consumption on an infant’s tooth development.

The study found a strong connection between both cheese and total dairy consumption during pregnancy and decreased risk of childhood dental caries, such as tooth decay and cavities. The children of women who consumed more cheese during pregnancy had fewer dental problems than women who didn’t.

World Milk production and consumption

721 million tonnes of milk were produced in the world in 2011. India is the world’s largest milk producing country, with a production of 121.7 million tonnes, all of it for domestic use.

World consumption per region:

  • Asia: 39%
  • Europe: 29%
  • North America: 13%
  • South America: 9%
  • Africa: 6%
  • Central America (incl Mexico): 3%
  • Oceania: 1%

Asia is the largest consuming region, but consumption per capita (67 kg) is low compared to i.e. Europe (277 kg). This is due to the fact that in more developed dairy regions like the EU, North America and Oceania, dairy products are considered staple foods, while in other regions they are not part of a traditional diet, and is often considered to be luxury goods.

Countries in Northern Europe have the highest consumption per capita of liquid milk in the world, and consumption in Estonia, Ireland and Finland being twice as high as the average consumption in the EU as a whole. 

Highest per capita butter consumption is found in Western Europe, with France at the top (7.5 kg per capita, twice as high as the EU average).

Western Europe have the highest average consumption of cheese, with Luxembourg and France at the top, both countries consuming more than 25 kg per capita. 

World Milk Day

The first World Milk Day was celebrated in June 2001 and has since become an annual event celebrated in a large number of countries throughout the world as a way to focus attention on milk as a global nutritious food, with a special emphasis on the nutritional status of children and undernourished people.

The World Milk Day was started by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), to increase awareness of the importance of milk consumption in the world; this inauguration was conducted across 199 member countries of the UN on the 1st of June 2001.


Monica Wadsworth

Monica Wadsworth
85 articles

Writer at

Read more »