Where is milk produced?


The nutrients in milk play an important role in growing and maintaining healthy bones, your immunity, the functioning of your nervous system, helping to prevent tiredness, maintaining healthy eyes, and so much more.

That’s why it’s such an important part of so many people’s daily diets.

It’s massive business for us in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Fonterra produces 16 billion litres of milk for more than 140 countries across the world every year.

And it’s produced by 10,000 farming families who own and supply high-quality milk for us to distribute and add value.

New Zealand is sixth in global milk production and our milk is known for its goodness, freshness and quality. We export 95% of our milk, leaving 800 million litres to be enjoyed by Kiwis all over our beautiful green country.

Milk traditionally flows from the wetter areas of the country like Waikato, Taranaki, Southland, Northland, Horowhenua, Manawatu and Westland. However, there are farms and milk production sites right across the country.

And our predominantly grass-fed cows ensure dairy farmers in Aotearoa have the world’s lowest carbon footprint at around half the emissions of other international producers.

Milk around the world

Milk production plays an important role in agriculture industries all over the world with India the world’s biggest milk producer. It’s estimated in 2020 they produced just under 200 billion litres of milk.

The United States is the next biggest at just over 103 billion litres with China, Russia and Brazil rounding out the top five.

In developing countries it’s estimated that around 80% of milk is produced on a very small scale. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, on average, households producing milk raise two milking cows providing a daily milk yield of 11 litres.

In numbers…

  • 840 billion litres of milk are produced by the dairy sector annually • 600 million people live on 133 million dairy farms around the world
  • 240 million people are employed, directly or indirectly in the dairy sector
  • Nearly 10 percent of the world population directly depends on dairy farming
  • Milk and dairy products account for about 14% of global agricultural trade
  • The average dairy herd is around two cows, giving an average yield of 11 litres per farm per day (Numbers courtesy of Global Dairy Platform)