How did milk production in Ireland compare to other countries in 2019?

At the end of 2019, domestic milk intake in Ireland reached just shy of 8 billion litres – up more than 400 million litres on the 7.6 billion recorded for the previous year – according to the latest figures from the central statistics office (CSO).

But where does Ireland fit in on a global scale?

We all know we are major players in the global dairy trading market, due to the sheer amount of dairy products we export; but in terms of overall milk production, where does Ireland fit in?

According to the German website Statista, the EU was the leading producer of cow’s milk globally in 2019.

In that year, the 28 countries in the EU collectively produced about 155 million tonnes or 151 billion litres of cow’s milk.

According to Statista, the EU also had the second greatest number of milking cows worldwide – at over 23.91 million head.

However, India comes in with the greatest number of milking cows worldwide, at 58.5 million head in 2019.

Taking a closer look at the 28-EU countries – from January to November, 2019 – Germany, France, the UK, Poland, the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland and Spain were the main milk producers – in that order.

Collectively, they make up 75% of EU milk production – CSO figures show.

Out of all the 28-EU countries, Ireland ranks seventh and has experienced the greatest jump in milk intake between the same period in 2018 and that of 2019 – by 5.7%.

Overall, the EU has seen a 0.5% jump in milk intake.

Milk intake by creameries and pasteurisers for the top 16 EU countries in 2019 in ‘000 tonnes. Image source: CSO

Turning back to the global scale of things; figures from Statista show that after the EU, the next largest milk producer is the US.

The US reached 99 million tonnes or 96 billion litres of cow’s milk in 2019 – producing 92% more milk than Ireland.

Coming closely behind the US is India at 91 million tonnes or 88 billion litres in 2019 – 11 times the milk pool of Ireland.

Interestingly, India is home to the highest number of dairy cows – at 59 million head in 2019 – but the EU produces 40% more milk. What is even more striking is that the average herd size in India is just two cows.

Leading producer of cow’s milk worldwide in 2019 in million tonnes. Image source: Statista

Following on from these is Russia, where the gap widens significantly. In 2019, Russia reached 31 million tonnes or 30 billion litres of cow’s milk.

Next up is China, producing 31 million tonnes (30 billion litres) and then Brazil, at 24 million tonnes (24 billion litres) of milk.

Producing 60% more than Ireland, New Zealand is reaching 22 millions tonnes or 21 billion litres of milk in 2019.

Finally, Australia produced 9 million tonnes of milk in 2019 or 8.7 billion litres. This is just 508 million litres ahead of milk production in Ireland in 2019 – or by 6%.