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The Netherlands is known for its dairy products. Butter, cheese, and milk are inseparable from our daily diet. But the Netherlands is not the only country that wants Dutch dairy products – there is high demand from abroad, as well. The Dutch dairy sector is therefore a major player on the global market, and in recent years has accounted for around 8% of the Dutch trade surplus and for 45,000 direct full-time jobs. In other words: cooperation is the foundation of the Dutch dairy chain. It has given the sector its strong international position – a position that profits the Dutch economy in major ways.

The Dutch Dairy Association and its members are part of a larger dairy landscape. Traditionally, dairy companies have worked closely together with other companies and organizations across the dairy chain. For example, dairy farmers have often organized cooperatives in which they sell milk to dairy processing companies – which they also own. This offers dairy farmers security and market power, and is an investment in the next generations. Dairy products get to consumers via trading companies, retailers, and the catering industry, or they are processed as ingredients in products made by food manufacturers. The export of Dutch dairy products goes through dairy and trading companies.

The stable and strong Dutch dairy sector has known for years how to stay ahead of the game, and cooperation will continue to be important down the road. Our dairy chain, with its nearly 17,000 dairy farms, faces a big challenge: developing itself in a sustainable way and, at the same time, strengthening and expanding its position in a globalizing world. To take on this challenge, cooperation between all players in the dairy chain is crucial. Increasing volumes goes hand in hand with increasing expertise. If the Dutch dairy sector wants to maintain its leading position, it must continue to excel in several areas simultaneously.

The Dutch Dairy Association places enormous importance on innovation in the dairy sector. Members of the Dutch Dairy Association invest an annual €90 million in R&D. The Netherlands is also home to some of the world’s leading research institutes in dairy – Wageningen University & Research, NIZO food research, and Qlip ensure that the best and latest methods are applied. Our country also boasts innovative companies that invest a great deal in R&D.

The report ‘Power of Dairy’

In april 2017, the Dutch Dairy Association NZO and EY published the report ‘The Power of Dairy’. The report covers the economic and social interest of the Dutch dairy sector, proven by figures from an independent study conducted by EY. This study shows that the Dutch dairy sector is of major importance for The Netherlands Ltd., can make a contribution to global food security, is among the world top when innovation is concerned and keeps raising the sustainability level. Below, you can find the report.

The report covers the figures and facts in four core messages, being influential and Dutch, responsible, innovative and international. The most important results from the study are:

  • The Netherlands is the most active dairy country within the EU. The production value of the Dutch dairy industry represented 6.6 billion euro last year.
  • The dairy sector provides 45,000 direct full-time jobs;
  • The dairy sector plays a key role in achieving the COP 21 objectives. The Dutch dairy industry is internationally leading in the areas of efficiency and sustainable technology. For instance, in the Netherlands, the CO2 emission per litre of milk is half the emission seen elsewhere in the world;
  • Dutch dairy can play an important role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Dairy products are essential for reducing poverty in the world and increasing food security.
  • The Dutch dairy sector is among the world top in the fields of innovative power and knowledge development. With this knowledge the sector can play an important role in making the global food production more efficient and sustainable.


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