Colombian Dairy Industry
Colombian dairy industry is growing, and it is of high importance in the Latin American sector. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Colombia is the country in the Andean region with the largest dairy industry. In Latin America, it is the fourth-largest producer after Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico. The dairy industry represents 24.3% of the agricultural GDP, and it generates around 700.000 jobs per year in 400.000 production units.
Dairy distributors are spread out through 22 departments throughout the country. Cundinamarca, Antioquia, and Boyacá are the departments with the highest production. Colombia produces around 7,000 million liters of milk. 50% of the supply is produced and sold by large dairy companies, and 50% is sold and produced informally. Ubaté Cundinamarca is the dairy capital of Colombia as it produces 19% of the country’s milk production.
In 2016 Colombia exported 58,340 tons of dairy products. The most exported products are cheese, concentrated milk, and yogurt, according to Asoleche (Colombian Association of Milk Processors). The country has a strong potential of becoming a leader in the exports of dairy products worldwide. Milk in Colombia can be very competitive in the international market. It has characteristics comparable with the milk produced in New Zealand and the United States. The protein and fat percentages are high, reaching 3,56%. They are higher than the milk produced in the United States and Canada, and its levels are close to those of Switzerland and Germany.
Even though there has been a high tendency for non-dairy milk such as almond milk and oat milk, cow milk products keep being the most consumed. Many dairy companies in Colombia have focused on adapting to market demand, producing dairy alternative products such as cream cheese, greek yogurt, fresh cheese, clarified butter, and ice cream.