The rise and rise of global trade in dairy

Published 25 July 19

International trade in milk and dairy products doubled over the last twenty years (1998-2018), according to findings from IFCN. Excluding intra-EU trade, they estimate that dairy products equal to 57 million tonnes of milk equivalent (ME) were traded in 2018. This has been driven by rising dairy demand, particularly in regions that are not producing enough milk to cover the increase, e.g. in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

IFCN trade graph

New Zealand and the US are two of the most notable exporters of dairy products, and their exports have expanded considerably over the last 20 years. The EU is up there with them, even excluding internal trade, but performance across the member states is highly varied. For the UK, imports outweigh exports, making it a net importer overall – and the current balance is worse than it was 20 years ago.

Going forward, IFCN expect dairy trade to almost double again by 2040, up to 108 million tonnes ME. This suggests that there will be opportunities for the UK to increase its dairy exports in the future – but it will have strong competition from other established exporting countries.  


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