Milk is a nutrient-rich liquid food produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals, including breastfed human infants before they are able to digest solid food. Early-lactation milk is called colostrum, which contains antibodies that strengthen the immune system and thus reduces the risk of many diseases. It holds many other nutrients, including protein and lactose. Interspecies consumption of milk is not uncommon, particularly among humans, many of whom consume the milk of other mammals.
As an agricultural product, dairy milk is collected from farm animals. Dairy farms produced around 730 million tonnes of milk in 2011, from 260 million dairy cows. India is the world’s largest producer of milk, and is the leading exporter of skimmed milk powder, yet it exports few other milk products.The ever-increasing rise in domestic demand for dairy products and a large demand-supply gap could lead to India being a net importer of dairy products in the future.New Zealand, Germany and the Netherlands are the largest exporters of milk products. China and Russia were the world’s largest importers of milk and milk products until 2016 when both countries became self-sufficient, contributing to a worldwide glut of milk.
Throughout the world, more than six billion people consume milk and milk products. Between 750 and 900 million people live in dairy farming households.