The International Dairy Federation has a goal of representing the global dairy sector and ensuring the best scientific expertise to support high quality milk. A recent virtual meeting, led by IDF Director-General Caroline Emond, looked at the world dairy situation with a focus on the United States.

Much of the information presented was sourced from the IDF World Dairy Situation Report, which features chapters on milk production, milk processing, the dairy industry, consumption, world dairy trade and market and farmgate prices. The report is available on the IDF website (at

Their newest publication is Global Marketing Trends, which Emond explained comes out every two to three years. It is also on their website.

Jean-Marc Chaumet, economy director at the French Dairy Inter-Branch Organization CNIEL in France, kicked things off by describing the big dairy picture. He explained that the World Dairy Situation Report features data from 51 countries – providing readers a global perspective as well as a country-by-country approach.

Looking at the regional development of cow’s milk production between 2010 and 2021, Asia has shown the most growth, now producing 33% of the world’s supply. The European Union provides 21% and North and Central America, 18%.

Chaumet also noted that as far as products go, cheese saw largest growth in output while “butter slowed down a lot.” Skim milk powder production was one of the few categories to actually drop in output.

He also pointed out that world dairy consumption continues to grow – a total of 1.4% between 2020 and 2021 alone.

To home in on the U.S. was Shawna Morris, senior vice-president of trade policy with U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation. She noted there are 9.4 million dairy cows in the U.S. on almost 28,000 farms, 94% of which are family owned. American farmers annually produce 225 billion lbs. of milk, with an average herd size of 337.

In light of social and environmental issues, Morris also stated that dairy production accounted for only 2% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. as of 2017 – advances in technology and practices continue to lower that number.

Morris dove a little deeper into American dairy sustainability and stewardship priorities, as outlined by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. The first is to advance well-being that enhances nutrition security and benefits the body. The second is to help regenerate the environment by achieving GHG neutrality, improving ecosystem health and accelerating the circular economy – generating value through resource efficiency, waste reduction and utilizing renewable resource and energy production.

The final priority is one farmers regularly meet: care for our animals and communities. It means providing exceptional care for cows, empowering the people in our communities and ensuring excellence in food safety and traceability.

To help achieve these goals, Morris mentioned the National Dairy FARM Program as a good resource. Check them out at

Additional policy priorities include:

  • Pursuit of accurate labeling of plant-based products
  • Retention/expansion of dairy’s role in key U.S. nutrition programs
  • Science-based updates for the 2024 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  • Targeted improvements to Farm Bill policies
  • Modernization of the U.S. milk pricing regulatory framework
  • Promotion of more robust U.S. trade agreement engagement
  • Passage of legislation to expand dairy’s access to farm labor
Taking a global view of the dairy industry

With the growth of the American dairy industry comes planned plant expansions. Image courtesy of IDF

U.S. production is trending toward butter and cheese and away from liquid milk, Morris explained. And exports have been the drivers of U.S. demand growth, with a product spectrum that is pretty diverse.

“Steady growth meets demand at home and abroad, with a very high rate of production efficiency,” Morris said of the industry. And to that end, she noted new processing plants are being set to open around the country, including a few in New York State.

Those interested in learning more about the global dairy trade are invited to attend the IDF World Dairy Summit Oct. 16 – 20 in Chicago. The program and registration are currently available at Early bird pricing is available until June 30.

by Courtney Llewellyn