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Dairy

scotland food and drink
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Abundant rain and lush grass make Scotland one of the best places in the world for milk

The cream of the crop

Scottish dairy herds produce some of the finest milk in Europe. We also boast experienced stockmen and a globally competitive milk producer base. 

With a growing farm-based cheesemaker sector and an established large scale processing industry, Scotland has demonstrated it's an attractive place to invest and grow. There's an extensive and highly developed support infrastructure, and our dairy exports are recognised worldwide for their outstanding taste, flavour and texture.

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Our cup runneth over

Under ambitious growth plans, by 2025 Scotland will produce over 1.6 billion litres of milk per year - a 50% increase over a 12-year period.

About 80% of the milk produced in Scotland is sold as liquid milk and cheddar cheese. The rest becomes butter, milk powder, yoghurt and ice cream. Products bearing the Scottish Dairy Brand marque are guaranteed to be made in Scotland from 100% Scottish milk.

There are over 40 products from all regions that bear the marque - opening up access to world markets for Scotland's premium value added dairy products.


We are working to ensure that every element of our supply chain is transparent, from farm inputs and animal care, right through to our factories and how we manufacture our foods.

First Milk

The keys to the dairy

When it comes to the success of Scotland’s dairy industry, the figures speak for themselves:

  • Scotland has approximately 9% of the UK dairy herd - concentrated in south west Scotland, where the quality of the grass gives high yields.
  • Scottish dairy companies contribute to the £1.3 billion of dairy products exported annually from the UK.
  • Milk production (in 2014) from a national herd of 170,000 dairy cows was 1.3 billion litres, with a value at farm level of £410 million.
  • Scotland’s largest export market is the EU, worth £67.56 million in 2013. The largest markets in the same year were: Belgium (£15.08 million), France (£13.89 million) and The Netherlands (£12.02 million).
  • The UK is the third largest milk-producing country in the EU after Germany and France. Between 2012 and 2013, Scottish dairy exports grew by 41%.
  • The expected 2% annual increase in world imports and rising EU domestic demand for dairy products are expected to support an increase in the dairy sector of close to 1% per year to 164 million tonnes in 2025. The EU's share of world exports should grow slightly, thanks to its considerable potential to increase production. (Source: EU)
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Scottish dairy herds are among the most efficient in Europe

Family farms, happy cows

Scotland’s dairy farms - we have around 1,000 of them - have often been handed down over generations. Today, tradition still plays almost as a big a role in the production process as modern technology.

Our dairy production system is extensive, with cows spending the majority of their time outdoors on most farms. We've also got the largest average herd size of any major milk-producing nation in Europe, which results in highly efficient production systems. 

In fact, Scotland's dairy herds are among the most efficient in Europe.

Farmers lead the way

That efficiency is underwritten by major farmer owned co-ops, such as First Milk and Arla. First Milk has a portfolio of award-winning brands including The Lake District, Mull of Kintyre and Isle of Arran cheddars.

Underpinned by Scotland’s dairy farmers, Scotland has attracted investments from a number of major multi-national dairy companies - Lactalis, Muller, Arla, Rowan Glen and Nestle. Scotland’s fastest growing and largest indigenous dairy business, Grahams Family Dairy, now offers a complete range of Scottish dairy products. 

Scotland supplies cheese to high-end retailers and restaurants across the globe

A reputation for quality

All commercial dairy farms in Scotland are members of a national and independently audited Quality Assurance scheme. This scheme guarantees high animal welfare standards, environmental production and, above all, food quality and food safety.

Scottish farmers are subject to rigorous independent inspections to ensure they meet the high standards of the scheme.

Traditional products, new flavours

The dairy sector in Scotland is keen to add value to its milk products, with many ambitious farmers diversifying into cheese and ice-cream production.

As tastes, shopping habits and the eco message mature, consumers are keen to try new or forgotten flavours.

Scottish cheeses, both hard and soft, are finding new fans, while milk, cheeses and yogurts from other animals - sheep, goats and buffalo - are also beginning to appear on menus and supermarket shelves.

From the islands to the Highlands, down to the rich pastures of the Lowlands, Scottish cheesemakers are reviving traditional products and inventing new flavours. From creamy, award-winning Scottish brie, to punchy, artisan-produced blue cheeses, Scotland and its cheesemakers can rightly claim their place at the top table.


Taste for yourself

Whether you’re a wholesaler, retailer, foodservice operator, importer or an agent - and wherever you are in the world - we can help.

We have an extensive network of offices around the world. Our international staff live and work within their office locale, have a comprehensive understanding of your market-specific business needs and can help link you to Scottish dairy producers and suppliers.

Contact us
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