Milk is a nutrient-rich, white liquid food produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for infant mammals (including humans who are breastfed) before they are able to digest other types of food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the mother’s antibodies to its young and can reduce the risk of many diseases. It contains 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, milk, also called dairy milk, is extracted from farm animals during or soon after pregnancy. Dairy farms produced about 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. The United States, India, China and Brazil are the world’s largest exporters of milk and 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. Over 750 million people live in dairy farming households.