top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

‘My gripe about French milk was replaced by awe at dairy statistics’

An ‘expat’ niggle about milk bottles lead Justin Postlehwaite to discover the sheer scale of France’s dairy industry

2.1% of French milk is organic and 26% of dairy farm managers in France are women Pic: BearFotos / Shutterstock

I have had the urge to air a (very minor) gripe about French milk for some time. 

Yet upon researching the subject, said gripe was momentarily replaced by awe at the sheer scope of France's dairy industry.

Buckle in for some impressive statistics

According to the government's Agriculture and Territories website, milk is produced in 90% of French departments. 

Three regions – Brittany, Normandy and Pays de la Loire – produce 52% of the country's annual cow's milk: a whopping 23 billion litres. 

2.1% is organic and also, 26% of dairy farm managers are women. 

We must not forget the 660 million litres of goat's milk collected in France in 2020 (mostly in Nouvelle Aquitaine), or the 294 million litres of ewe's milk the same year.

Read more: North France: Is cheese really dunked in coffee at breakfast?

A little help from a certain Frenchman, Louis Pasteur

The man who started all this – by figuring out that by heating milk slowly you can stop bacterial contamination and extend its shelf life – was, of course, Louis Pasteur (1822-1895). 

What might he have made of an industry now worth €8.7 billion – 13% of the country's total agricultural output? 

Not all milk is pasteurised, of course, and there are any number of amazing raw milk cheeses like Brie, Camembert, Roquefort…

Read more: Why some French cheese may begin to taste a bit different

Back to the gripe

The standard one litre plastic bottle in which French milk is sold has a glaring technical fault – for any expat 'builder's tea' drinker, at least. 

The pouring lip is simply not fit for the purpose of splashing a nuage into a morning cuppa – it drips and dribbles all over the bottle (quel horreur!)

If the French were a nation of bona fide tea drinkers, this problem wouldn't exist. Do you agree? 

Related articles

Why Nutri-score gives A to factory chips and E to farmers’ cheese

Aligot: cheesy French comfort food famous for being remarkably stringy

‘Du pain, du vin, du Boursin’ – the story of a classic French advert

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Income Tax in France 2023 (for 2022 income)*
Featured Help Guide
- Primarily aimed at Britons, covers pensions, rent, ISAs, shares, savings and interest - but also contains significant general information pertinent to readers of other nationalities - Overview of online declarations + step-by-step guide to the French printed forms - Includes updates given automatically after this year's site opened
Get news, views and information from France