Butter Exports by Country

Freshly churned butter and bread courtesy of Pixabay.com

Freshly churned butter

Global sales for butter exports by country totaled US$8.1 billion in 2018. Overall, the value of butter exports increased by an average 35% for all exporting countries since 2014 when butter shipments were valued at $6 billion. Year over year, exported butter appreciated by 11.2% from 2017 to 2018.

Among continents, Europe sold the highest dollar worth of exported butter during 2018 with shipments valued at $6.2 billion or over three-quarters (76.5%) of the global total. In second place were Oceania exporters at 18.5% led by New Zealand followed by Australia. Smaller percentages came from shippers in Latin America (1.5%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Asia (also 1.5%) then Africa (0.1%).

The 6-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefix for butter is 040510. That code prefix excludes dehydrated butter and ghee. The term ghee means clarified butter (fat) made from the milk of a buffalo or cow and is commonly used in South Asian cooking.

Butter Exports by Country


Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of butter during 2018.

  1. New Zealand: US$1.4 billion (17.7% of total butter exports)
  2. Ireland: $1.2 billion (15.5%)
  3. Netherlands: $1.2 billion (15%)
  4. Belgium: $693.2 million (8.6%)
  5. Germany: $666.3 million (8.2%)
  6. France: $476 million (5.9%)
  7. Denmark: $354.2 million (4.4%)
  8. Belarus: $353.8 million (4.4%)
  9. Poland: $351 million (4.3%)
  10. United Kingdom: $213.8 million (2.6%)
  11. Finland: $161.5 million (2%)
  12. United States: $137.8 million (1.7%)
  13. Ukraine: $121 million (1.5%)
  14. Portugal: $80.6 million (1%)
  15. Uruguay: $67.1 million (0.8%)

The listed 15 countries shipped 93.7% of global butter exports in 2018 by value.

Among the top exporters, the fastest-growing butter exporters since 2014 were: Ukraine (up 497.2%), Poland (up 135.8%), Ireland (up 92.4%) and United Kingdom (up 85.4%).

Two countries posted declines in their exported butter sales namely United States (down -42%) and Uruguay (down -31.6%).


The following countries posted the highest positive net exports for butter during 2018. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the surplus between the value of each country’s exported butter and its import purchases for that same commodity.

  1. New Zealand: US$1.4 billion (net export surplus up 21.2% since 2014)
  2. Ireland: $1.2 billion (up 92.3%)
  3. Netherlands: $363.1 million (down -21.3%)
  4. Belarus: $353.7 million (up 25.8%)
  5. Denmark: $291.6 million (up 115.9%)
  6. Poland: $262.5 million (up 177.2%)
  7. Finland: $157.9 million (up 58.5%)
  8. Belgium: $126.3 million (up 445%)
  9. Ukraine: $118.8 million (reversing a -$9.7 million deficit)
  10. Uruguay: $64.1 million (down -33%)
  11. India: $63.3 million (up 432.5%)
  12. Portugal: $59.5 million (up 55.1%)
  13. Argentina: $41.8 million (down -4.5%)
  14. Lithuania: $10.2 million (down -72.7%)
  15. Kyrgyzstan: $9.4 million (up 282.4%)

New Zealand has the highest surplus in the international trade of butter. In turn, this positive cashflow confirms New Zealand’s strong competitive advantage for this specific product category.


The following countries posted the highest negative net exports for butter during 2018. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the deficit between the value of each country’s imported butter purchases and its exports for that same commodity.

  1. France: -US$659.3 million (net export deficit up 51.8% since 2014)
  2. China: -$519.8 million (up 131.8%)
  3. Russia: -$366 million (down -39.2%)
  4. United Kingdom: -$214.8 million (up 7.3%)
  5. Saudi Arabia: -$153.3 million (down -18.8%)
  6. Italy: -$129.6 million (down -6%)
  7. Egypt: -$128.3 million (down -12.3%)
  8. Germany: -$119.9 million (reversing a $67.4 million surplus)
  9. Australia: -$116 million (reversing a $77.2 million surplus)
  10. Czech Republic: -$110.9 million (up 68.6%)
  11. Singapore: -$103.3 million (up 49.7%)
  12. Taiwan: -$102.9 million (up 46.4%)
  13. United States: -$102.2 million (reversing a $166.6 million surplus)
  14. United Arab Emirates: -$100.8 million (up 76.1%)
  15. Indonesia: -$98.1 million (up 61.6%)

France incurred the highest deficit in the international trade of butter. In turn, this negative cashflow highlights France’s competitive disadvantage for this specific product category but also signals opportunities for butter-supplying countries that help satisfy the powerful demand.


Butter Exporting Companies

Below are global butter-producing cooperatives and multi-national dairy companies. Shown within parenthesis is the city and country where the headquarters for each business is located.

  • Arla Foods (Viby, Denmark)
  • Fonterra (Auckland, New Zealand)
  • Lactalis (Laval, France)
  • Müller (Fischach, Germany)
  • Parmalat (Collecchio, Italy)
  • Zott (Mertingen,Germany)


Searchable List of Butter Exporting Countries in 2018

You can change the presentation order by clicking the triangle icon at the top of the columns.

RankExporterButter Exports (US$)%World Total
1.New Zealand$1.4 billion17.7%
2.Ireland$1.2 billion15.5%
3.Netherlands$1.2 billion15%
4.Belgium$693.2 million8.6%
5.Germany$666.3 million8.2%
6.France$476 million5.9%
7.Denmark$354.2 million4.4%
8.Belarus$353.8 million4.4%
9.Poland$351 million4.3%
10.United Kingdom$213.8 million2.6%
11.Finland$161.5 million2%
12.United States$137.8 million1.7%
13.Ukraine$121 million1.5%
14.Portugal$80.6 million1%
15.Uruguay$67.1 million0.8%
16.India$64.5 million0.8%
17.Australia$61.7 million0.8%
18.Italy$55 million0.7%
19.Spain$51.9 million0.6%
20.Argentina$42.9 million0.5%
21.Lithuania$31.5 million0.4%
22.Austria$24.2 million0.3%
23.Sweden$16.9 million0.2%
24.Czech Republic$14.4 million0.2%
25.Singapore$10.1 million0.1%
26.Kyrgyzstan$9.5 million0.1%
27.Mexico$8.6 million0.1%
28.South Africa$8.4 million0.1%
29.Russia$8.4 million0.1%
30.Kazakhstan$8 million0.1%
31.Malaysia$8 million0.1%
32.Slovakia$7.6 million0.1%
33.Hong Kong$6 million0.1%
34.Costa Rica$6 million0.1%
35.Luxembourg$5.7 million0.1%
36.Switzerland$5.7 million0.1%
37.China$5.2 million0.1%
38.Estonia$5.1 million0.1%
39.Latvia$4.9 million0.1%
40.Colombia$4.2 million0.1%
41.Croatia$3.6 million0.04%
42.Romania$3.1 million0.04%
43.Turkey$2.9 million0.04%
44.Bulgaria$2.5 million0.03%
45.Canada$2 million0.02%
46.Saudi Arabia$2 million0.02%
47.Paraguay$2 million0.02%
48.Thailand$1.6 million0.02%
49.Greece$1.5 million0.02%
50.Hungary$1.5 million0.02%
51.Iceland$1.4 million0.02%
52.Serbia$1.1 million0.01%
64.North Macedonia$206,0000.003%
76.South Korea$94,0000.001%
77.El Salvador$89,0000.001%
81.United Arab Emirates$66,0000.001%
89.Central African Rep$19,0000.0002%
90.Ivory Coast$15,0000.0002%
94.Brunei Darussalam$9,0000.0001%
98.Sri Lanka$3,0000.00004%
99.Syrian Arab Republic$2,0000.00002%

See also Top Milk Exporting Countries, Cheese Exports by Country and Top Yogurt Exporters

Research Sources:
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 29, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 29, 2019

The World Factbook, Field Listing: Exports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on May 29, 2019

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on May 29, 2019

Wikipedia, Category:Multinational dairy companies . Accessed on September 9, 2018