Dairy production in Brazil

Brazil’s tropical climate and green pastures that produce such quality beef are also ideal for dairy production. With our approach to tropical agriculture, we have breed superior dairy cows adapted to the tropics, such as the bovine breed Gyr Leiteiro.

Brazil has the world’s third largest dairy cow herd (17.1m heads) and is the world’s fourth largest milk and cheese producer.

Producers have been improving the quality of milk by increasing the production of solids (fat and protein), strengthening the implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and increasing control of the production process. 

The dairy sector contributes to the local economy in 5,551 of Brazil’s 5,569 municipalities. Over a quarter of Brazil’s agricultural properties (1.1m) are involved in milk production, collectively supplying around 34,8bn litres per year with an annual growth close to 3%.

Dairy is the sector with the sixth highest gross value in Brazilian agriculture and around 80% of dairy farmers are smallholders. Dairy farming generates about 3.6m direct jobs and is responsible for 40% of the jobs in the rural areas.

While most dairy products are consumed domestically, the steady expansion of milk production gives Brazil the opportunity to become a major exporter of dairy. Brazil currently exports to more than 110 countries. Current exports are mostly focused in milk powder, whole/skimmed milk, UHT and condensed milk, and cheeses.

Five local cheese products – canastra, serro, Colônia de Witmarsum, Marajó and Artesanal Serrano – are protected by Geographical Indications (GIs). GIs are used in international trade to recognise products of a specific geographical origin that brings unique qualities. The indications are registered with the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) and are recognised by the WTO as a way to value and protect products in international trade negotiations.