India remains the world’s largest dairy producer

A line chart showing milk production in India from 1980 to 2016.

Errata: On April 21, 2017, the axis and text of this Chart of Note were revised so that the production units were correctly listed as million tons.

Errata: On March 29, 2017, the title of this Chart of Note was revised so that it correctly references India as the world’s largest dairy producer.

India is the largest milk-producing country in the world. The country is trailed by the United States, which is the second largest producer, in milk production by a large margin. India is unique among the major milk producers because more than half of its production comes from water buffalo, rather than cattle. Its dairy herd, also the largest in the world, has the biggest herds of both dairy cattle and water buffalo. Since 1980, production has grown consistently at an average of 4.5 percent per year. The rate of growth between water buffalo and cow’s milk has also been quite similar at 4.6 and 4.5 percent, respectively. In 2016, total production reached 154 million tons compared with 96 million produced in the United States. India surpassed the United States as the largest dairy producer in 1997, when both countries produced roughly 70 million tons, each. This chart appears in the March 2017 ERS Report “India’s Dairy Sector: Structure, Performance, and Prospects.”

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