The Belgian dairy industry produces more fresh dairy products and butter than 4 years ago

Agriculture & fishery
The Belgian dairy industry produces more fresh dairy products and butter than 4 years ago

Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, publishes today the annual dairy statistics for 2019. These show that our country mainly produces more fresh dairy products and butter compared to 2015. The production of farm butter has increased by 41 % over 4 years. 19 % more fresh dairy products were also produced, with yoghurt registering the sharpest increase (33 %). Goat's cheese is also on the rise (93 %), although its production share in Belgium is, with 10,000 tonnes, rather small. As for drinking milk, semi-skimmed milk is produced the most, although its production has decreased by 18 % since 2015. It is mainly the increase of whole milk (23 %) that stands out in the last 4 years.

Drinking milk remains the largest product group

In 2019, the total production of drinking milk (chocolate milk and milk with added vitamins included) amounted to 856 million litres. This is slightly less (-5 %) than 4 years ago. The production of semi-skimmed milk (-18 %) and buttermilk (-13 %) in particular has decreased compared to 2015, while that of whole milk has increased by 23 %. As for milk drinks, the production of chocolate milk remained more or less unchanged these past 4 years (+1 %), and 10 % more milk with added vitamins were produced.

Dairy production in Belgium (2006-2019)

in 1,000 litres or tonne 2006 2010 2015 2017 2018 2019 Difference 2019/2018 Difference 2019/2015
Drinking milk 770,621 802,762 899,501 843,375 848,550 856,417 +0.9% -5.0%
whole milk 158,811 158,881 184,872 198,902 211,863 228,182 +7.7% +23.0%
semi-skimmed milk 398,350 465,185 469,647 416,570 392,999 383,512 -2.4% -18.0%
skimmed milk 61,348 53,158 46,809 42,018 47,728 44,145 -7.5% -6.0%
buttermilk 26,664 19,450 18,792 20,326 18,320 16,359 -10.7% -13.0%
milk drinks
chocolate milk 101,026 75,881 140,190 120,042 132,158 141,177 +6.8% +1.0%
milk with added vitamins 24,422 30,207 39,191 45,517 45,483 43,043 -5.4% +10.0%

The production of fresh dairy products increases the most

The fresh dairy products are the second largest group in the Belgian dairy industry, with 649 million litres, i.e. an increase of 19 % compared to 2015. The sharpest increase these past 4 years was registered by yoghurt, with 33 %. Other dairy products are also on the rise: fermented milk (22 %), consumer cream (15 %) and desserts (17 %).

in 1,000 litres or tonne 2006 2010 2015 2017 2018 2019 Difference 2019/2018 Difference 2019/2015
Fresh dairy products 546,114 530,598 544,125 582,357 641,609 649,413 +1.2% +19.0%
yoghurt 45,853 50,695 35,307 52,829 47,074 46,969 -0.2% +33.0%
fermented milk 276,571 239,493 202,866 206,024 251,281 248,188 -1.2% +22.0%
consumer cream 130,775 151,741 214,804 227,851 239,751 247,180 +3.1% +15.0%
desserts 92,916 88,669 91,147 95,652 103,503 107,075 +3.5% +17.0%

Twice as much farm butter as blended butter

In 2019, the overall production of butter increased by 18 % compared to 2015. This is mainly due to the sharp increase of farm butter. In 4 years time almost 20,000 tonnes more farm butter were produced, an increase of 41 %. The production of blended butter decreased by -11 % compared to 2015.

in 1,000 litres or tonne 2006 2010 2015 2017 2018 2019 Difference 2019/2018 Difference 2019/2015
Butter 78,560 75,043 81,268 91,167 93,624 96,144 +2.7% +18.0%
farm butter 40,065 31,651 45,856 55,381 60,547 64,492 +6.5% +41.0%
blended butter 38,495 43,392 35,412 35,786 33,076 31,652 -4.3% -11.0%

The production of goat’s cheese soars

In 2019, some 104,000 tonnes of cheese were produced in Belgium, including 97,000 tonnes of natural cheese. For natural cheese, this is an increase of 17 % over 4 years. The production of soft cheese has sharply decreased since 2015 (-43 %). The production of goat's cheese in particular presents high rates of increase: 93 % compared to 2015. Although the share of goat's cheese production remains very limited, with 9 % of total cheese production, in 2015 this share was only 5 %. In order to produce almost 10,000 tonnes of goat's cheese, 73 million litres of goat's milk were collected in Belgium and abroad. The share of Belgium's own goat's milk is limited to 59 %.

in 1,000 litres or tonne 2006 2010 2015 2017 2018 2019 Difference 2019/2018 Difference 2019/2015
Cheese 65,122 72,085 95,988 110,564 106,716 104,582 -2.0% +9.0%
Soft 10,274 11,264 12,819 9,632 7,843 7,301 -6.9% -43.0%
Natural cheese 54,848 60,821 83,169 100,933 98,874 97,281 -1.6% +17.0%
 
Goat's cheese 1,775 3,418 5,098 7,965 9,560 9,843 +3.0% +93.0%

Less ice cream, more milk powder

In the remaining categories, the production of consumer ice cream is declining. While in 2015, 71,000 litres of ice cream were still produced, in 2019, only 66,000 litres were produced, i.e. a decrease of 7 %.

Milk powder registers new increases, particularly for unskimmed milk powder (40 % more than in 2015) and for the category ‘other’, including a.o. baby food and sports drinks.

Finally, the production of condensed milk and whey decreased by 59 % compared to 2015.

For the production of milk powder (246,000 tonnes), cheese (105,000 tonnes), butter (96,000 tonnes) and condensed milk and whey (29,000 tonnes), 4.8 billion litres cow’s milk were used, as well as 157 million litres cream and 98 million litres skimmed milk (including imported deliveries).

in 1,000 litres or tonne 2006 2010 2015 2017 2018 2019 Difference 2019/2018 Difference 2019/2015
Consumer ice cream 114,931 85,004 71,148 71,641 71,392 66,389 -7.0% -7.0%
 
Milk powder 149,372 162,852 207,775 228,468 250,183 246,095 -1.6% +18.0%
unskimmed 70,839 69,212 39,202 55,442 53,805 54,831 +1.9% +40.0%
skimmed 67,409 78,034 153,295 154,651 171,101 163,644 -4.4% +7.0%
other 11,123 15,606 15,278 18,374 25,277 27,620 +9.3% +81.0%
 
Condensed milk and whey 82,350 46,240 71,406 29,961 26,595 29,490 +10.9% -59.0%

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