Milk in Finland

Dairy products and nutrition in Finland

Dairy farming has been an integral part of agriculture since prehistoric times in Finland. Together with grain, milk has been the major agricultural product. Dairy products have also been a cornerstone of the diet in all consumer segments of the Finns. Even adults drink milk.

In every country, common nutrition is based on traditional farming. Finland is a grass-growing country.

Milk in the diet

Milk and dairy products play a key role in the Finnish diet. Milk is an important source of protein, calcium and many vitamins. In addition milk contains significant quantities of many other nutrients.

In past twenty years milk consumption has dropped by 23 l/capita. Skimmed and low-fat milk types have taken the place of standard and whole milk types. The milk types with functional properties have been a great success. Yoghurts have partly replaced the traditional sour milks.

Yoghurt consumption increased rapidly until 2010, after which it has fallen a bit. Cheese consumption on the other hand has increased rapidly during the last few years, mainy due to increase in curd and cottage cheese -like low fat cheeses.


Consumption in 2015 per capita l/year dl/day
Milk 123 3,4
Fermented liquid milk 10 0,3
Yoghurt, curdled milk 20,7 0,6
Cream 6,5 0,2
  kg /year g/day
Cheese 26,6 73
Butter   3,4 9

Low-fat milks (1 % and 1,5 % fat) are the most popular milk types. Skimmed milk is consumed widely among the youngest. Only 10 % of milk consumed is whole milk (farm milk included).

Finns drink a lot of milk. 81 % of grown-up people drink it and 66 % drink it daily. Men drink more than women. Women prefere skimmed milk. Younger generations drink more than grown-up people, children more than teenagers.

Three glasses a day

Finnish nutrition recommendations favour dairy products but not the fat in them. We are advised to have half a liter of liquid dairy products, skimmed or low-fat, and 2-3 slices of low-fat cheese daily to meet our nutrient needs. Skimmed milk or low-fat fermented milk are recommended drinks with meals.

Eating out

During the last decade eating out at the workplace restaurants, canteens and schools have had an increasing influence on food consumption. About 2 million meals are eaten outside home daily, every second of them at school canteens.

All schools in Finland serve a warm meal  free of charge daily, regulated by law for 60 years already. And the meals include free milk, fermented milk and water as a drink in every school.

According to the EC statistics (Regulation (EC) Nro 2707/2000 (School Milk):Quantities Subsidised durring the 2006/2007 School Year (Product Weight)) Finland is the number one coutry to use skimmed milk at schools. It counts for over 50 per cent of the milk served at schools. We are glad that all school milks get the same subsidy from the beginning of the year 2008.

Consumer attitudes

Milk products have always been among the favourites in Finnish diet. Image of milk has changed in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Milk is still considered a safe and healthy drink. Milk is normally consumed with everyday meals and at breakfast at home, not that much with outside home meals.

Milk is well known as a rich source of calcium. And the recent nutrition research results support the benefits of the dairy calcium. If we want to encourage milk drinking, a lot of attention has to be paid to the selection of low-fat and fat-free products and their functional properties as far as our health is concerned.

Milk products have been differentiated in accordance with health trends. New milks, such as low-fat milks, low-lactose or lactose-free milk and milks with probiotics have become popular.

Dairy Nutrition Council

Generic promotion of milk has been done since 1950’s. The campaigns have been targeted to specific age groups. The Dairy Nutrition Council has informed professional people, teachers, nurses, dieticians etc.

Year 2008 we celebrated our 50th Anniversary.