Global milk production is forecasted to increase by 17% over the next 10 years, while the European Union (EU) level of milk production is set to decline during the same period according to a new report.

“Dairy will remain the fastest expanding livestock sector over the next decade, with global milk production projected to increase by 17%”.

That is according to the latest Agricultural Outlook 2023-32 report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

It detailed: “Production in the EU, the second largest global milk producer after India, is expected to decline slightly in response to the ongoing transition towards environmentally sustainable production, the expansion of organic production, and the shift from intensive to pasture-based production systems.”

“While cow inventories are rising in eastern Europe and central Asia, a contraction of 9% is foreseen in western Europe, mainly from intensive systems.

“This reduction is shaped by the EU’s ongoing prioritisation of sustainability, which is expected to reduce its share in global production to less than 15% by 2032, down from 17% in the 2020-22 base period.”

Almost half of the Europe and central Asia region’s dairy products are produced in western Europe, but this share is expected to decline by 2032 to 44%.

The EU makes up 28% of global dairy exports and a growth of 1.6% per year is sufficient to continue this rise by 2032. 


The report states that worldwide emissions from agriculture are forecasted to rise by 7.5% in the next 10 years which is “just less than half the projected output growth – indicating a significant fall in the carbon intensity of agricultural production”.

“The livestock sector is projected to account for 86% of the increased emissions.”

“Geographically, most of the increase in emissions is projected to occur in middle and low-income regions due to the higher growth in ruminant production in systems that are emission intensive.”

Direct greenhouse gas emission from crop and livestock production, by activity Source: FAO and OECD

Worldwide growth in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture will be lower than in the previous decade and lower than the projected growth in agricultural output, indicating a quicker drop in the carbon intensity of agricultural production, as will be the case in Europe.

Direct agricultural GHG emissions are projected to remain almost unchanged in Europe and central Asia, rising by only 0.6% by 2032.

This is due to a forecasted decline of 5% in western Europe and 4% in the EU, mainly from reductions in the livestock sectors.

However, emissions are expected to rise in eastern Europe and central Asia, where livestock herds are continuing to expand.