Drinking milk: a driver of the French economy

Milk: a source of economic wealth and nutritional health

Different types of drinking milk are a key driver of the French economy: 3. 6 billion litres were packaged in 2013, or 11% of the milk collected in France. As a fragile, live raw material, milk follows a precise, regulated process to guarantee its bacteriological quality.

Drinking milk is generally cow’s milk. It also comes from other animals, such as goats and sheep.

Milk is healthy, and not just because of its calcium. It contains a unique combination of nutrients that are essential to good health throughout our lives!

Milk in key figures 

  • 6,000 direct jobs and 18,000 indirect jobs
  • 54.3 kg of drinking milk/inhabitant/year consumed in France
  • 3.6 billion litres of milk packaged in France

Source : FranceAgriMer / S.S.P. and monthly dairy survey – 2013 data

Milk manufacturing processes

  • Raw milk
    Milking
    Objective

    Collect milk

    Processes
    • Mechanical milking: the most popular method in France. Generally takes place twice a day. The milking machine is fixed onto the cow’s cleaned udder and stimulates the calf’s teat.
    • Robotic milking: milking on demand by a robot. An electronic tracking device enables the milking duration to be tailored to each cow depending on its volume of available milk. 5% of French farms are equipped with milking robots.

      

       Pipes take the milk to a refrigerated
       tank.

    Refrigerated storage
    Objective:

    Chill the milk to prevent bacteria from developing and store milk in the right conditions

    Processes
    • A pre-cooling system before the milk arrives at the storage tank
    • Storage in a 4°C refrigerated tank for a maximum of 72 hours
    Benefits:
    • Preserves the beneficial bacterial flora of milk.
    • Prevents the development of pathogens.
    Quality analysis
    Objective:

    Guarantee milk quality

    Processes
    • Milk samples are taken during collection
    • Samples are sent to authorized laboratories for analysis based on different criteria
    Benefits
    • For farmers: quality-based milk payments
    • For dairies: manufacturing of quality dairy products
    • For consumers: a guarantee of food safety and organoleptic quality
    Bottling
    Objective:

    Package milk for sale

    Processes
    • Processes may vary but the principle remains the same: milk is put into hermetically sealed bottles. Bottling factories are often located on farms.
    • Packaging is labelled “raw milk” or “fresh raw milk” with a distinctive yellow strip or label.
    Milking
    Storage
    Quality analysis
    Bottling
  • Pasteurized fresh milk
    Milking
    Objective

    Collect milk

    Processes
    • Mechanical milking: the most popular method in France. Generally takes place twice a day. The milking machine is fixed onto the cow’s cleaned udder and stimulates the calf’s teat.
    • Robotic milking: milking on demand by a robot. An electronic tracking device enables the milking duration to be tailored to each cow depending on its volume of available milk. 5% of French farms are equipped with milking robots.

      

       Pipes take the milk to a refrigerated
       tank.

    Refrigerated storage
    Objective:

    Chill the milk to prevent bacteria from developing and store milk in the right conditions

    Processes
    • A pre-cooling system before the milk arrives at the storage tank
    • Storage in a 4°C refrigerated tank for a maximum of 72 hours
    Benefits:
    • Preserves the beneficial bacterial flora of milk.
    • Prevents the development of pathogens.
    Quality analysis
    Objective:

    Guarantee milk quality

    Processes
    • Milk samples are taken during collection
    • Samples are sent to authorized laboratories for analysis based on different criteria
    Benefits
    • For farmers: quality-based milk payments
    • For dairies: manufacturing of quality dairy products
    • For consumers: a guarantee of food safety and organoleptic quality
    Collection
    Objective:

    Transport milk from the farm to the dairy

    Processes
    • Every two days, an isothermal refrigerated tanker collects the raw milk and transports it to the dairy.
    Benefits

    The cold chain is maintained

    Quality analysis
    Objective:

    Guarantee product quality

    Processes

    Samples are sent to laboratories to detect any traces of antibiotics or other substances that could negatively impact manufacturing

    Benefits
    • For dairies: manufacturing of quality dairy products
    • For consumers: a guarantee of food safety and organoleptic quality
    Unloading and storage at the dairy
    Objective:

    Transfer milk from the refrigerated tanker to the factory tank for storage before processing

    Processes
    • The milk is transferred from the tanker to the storage tank by a system of pipes.

    • Thermal preprocessing is possible before storage, to reduce the number of undesirable micro-organisms and improve the shelf life of milk.

    Benefits

    The cold chain is maintained.

    Quality analysis
    Objective:

    Guarantee product quality

    Processes:
    • Samples are taken throughout the manufacturing process.
    • Samples are sent to laboratories for analysis based on different criteria.
    Benefits:
    • For dairies: manufacturing of quality products
    • For consumers: a guarantee of food safety and organoleptic quality
    Skimming and standardization (cream content)
    Objective:

    Adjust the fat content

    Processes:
    • The milk is separated from the cream by centrifugal force. The cream leaves the separator at the top and the skimmed milk at the bottom.
    • In a mixing tank, different quantities of cream are added depending on the type of milk desired (standardization to the right level).

           - Whole milk contains 3.5% fat.
           - Semi-skimmed milk contains 1.5% fat.
           - Skimmed milk contains no fat.

    Benefits:

    This process ensures homogeneous fat content for each category of dairy product.

    Homogenization
    Objective:

    Ensure that fat is well distributed in milk

    Processes:
    Physical treatment enabling the fat globules to be split into very fine particles using high pressure
    Benefits:
    Prevents cream from rising to the surface of the milk
    Pasteurization
    Objective:

    Eliminate micro-organisms that are harmful for humans.

    Processes:

    Through contact with hot plates, the milk is heated at 72°C for 15 seconds.

    Benefits:

    Extends the shelf life of milk when refrigerated

    Refrigeration
    Objective:

    Cool pasteurized milk and keep it refrigerated

    Processes:
    The milk is cooled after every step of pasteurization.
    Benefits:
    • Maintains the cold chain
    • Guarantees product quality for seven days
    Packaging (4°C)
    Objective:

    Package the milk to be sold

    Processes:
    • Milk is often packaged in hermetically sealed, soft plastic bottles.
    • It is then refrigerated (4°C).
    Benefits:

    The cold chain is maintained.

    Milking
    Storage
    Quality analysis
    Collection
    Quality analysis
    Unloading
    Quality analysis
    Skimming
    Homogenization
    Pasteurization
    Refrigeration
    Packaging
  • Sterilized milk
    Milking
    Objective

    Collect milk

    Processes
    • Mechanical milking: the most popular method in France. Generally takes place twice a day. The milking machine is fixed onto the cow’s cleaned udder and stimulates the calf’s teat.
    • Robotic milking: milking on demand by a robot. An electronic tracking device enables the milking duration to be tailored to each cow depending on its volume of available milk. 5% of French farms are equipped with milking robots.

      

       Pipes take the milk to a refrigerated
       tank.

    Refrigerated storage
    Objective:

    Chill the milk to prevent bacteria from developing and store milk in the right conditions

    Processes
    • A pre-cooling system before the milk arrives at the storage tank
    • Storage in a 4°C refrigerated tank for a maximum of 72 hours
    Benefits:
    • Preserves the beneficial bacterial flora of milk.
    • Prevents the development of pathogens.
    Quality analysis
    Objective:

    Guarantee milk quality

    Processes
    • Milk samples are taken during collection
    • Samples are sent to authorized laboratories for analysis based on different criteria
    Benefits
    • For farmers: quality-based milk payments
    • For dairies: manufacturing of quality dairy products
    • For consumers: a guarantee of food safety and organoleptic quality
    Collection
    Objective:

    Transport milk from the farm to the dairy

    Processes
    • Every two days, an isothermal refrigerated tanker collects the raw milk and transports it to the dairy.
    Benefits

    The cold chain is maintained

    Quality analysis
    Objective:

    Guarantee product quality

    Processes

    Samples are sent to laboratories to detect any traces of antibiotics or other substances that could negatively impact manufacturing

    Benefits
    • For dairies: manufacturing of quality dairy products
    • For consumers: a guarantee of food safety and organoleptic quality
    Unloading and storage at the dairy
    Objective:

    Transfer milk from the refrigerated tanker to the factory tank for storage before processing

    Processes
    • The milk is transferred from the tanker to the storage tank by a system of pipes.

    • Thermal preprocessing is possible before storage, to reduce the number of undesirable micro-organisms and improve the shelf life of milk.

    Benefits

    The cold chain is maintained.

    Quality analysis
    Objective:

    Guarantee product quality

    Processes:
    • Samples are taken throughout the manufacturing process.
    • Samples are sent to laboratories for analysis based on different criteria.
    Benefits:
    • For dairies: manufacturing of quality products
    • For consumers: a guarantee of food safety and organoleptic quality
    Skimming and standardization (cream content)
    Objective:

    Adjust the fat content

    Processes:
    • The milk is separated from the cream by centrifugal force. The cream leaves the separator at the top and the skimmed milk at the bottom.
    • In a mixing tank, different quantities of cream are added depending on the type of milk desired (standardization to the right level).

           - Whole milk contains 3.5% fat.
           - Semi-skimmed milk contains 1.5% fat.
           - Skimmed milk contains no fat.

    Benefits:

    This process ensures homogeneous fat content for each category of dairy product.

    Homogenization
    Objective:

    Ensure that fat is well distributed in milk

    Processes:
    Physical treatment enabling the fat globules to be split into very fine particles using high pressure
    Benefits:
    Prevents cream from rising to the surface of the milk
    Bottling
    Objective:

    Package milk for sale

    Processes:
    Milk is poured into hermetically sealed bottles.
    Sterilization in an autoclave
    Objective:

    Destroy the micro-organisms in milk

    Processes:
    Milk is heated with 115°C water vapour for 15-20 minutes, then cooled.
    Benefits:
    Helps increase the shelf life of milk
    Milking
    Storage
    Quality analysis
    Collection
    Quality analysis
    Unloading
    Quality analysis
    Skimming
    Homogenization
    Bottling
    Sterilization
  • UHT sterilized milk
    Milking
    Objective

    Collect milk

    Processes
    • Mechanical milking: the most popular method in France. Generally takes place twice a day. The milking machine is fixed onto the cow’s cleaned udder and stimulates the calf’s teat.
    • Robotic milking: milking on demand by a robot. An electronic tracking device enables the milking duration to be tailored to each cow depending on its volume of available milk. 5% of French farms are equipped with milking robots.

      

       Pipes take the milk to a refrigerated
       tank.

    Refrigerated storage
    Objective:

    Chill the milk to prevent bacteria from developing and store milk in the right conditions

    Processes
    • A pre-cooling system before the milk arrives at the storage tank
    • Storage in a 4°C refrigerated tank for a maximum of 72 hours
    Benefits:
    • Preserves the beneficial bacterial flora of milk.
    • Prevents the development of pathogens.
    Quality analysis
    Objective:

    Guarantee milk quality

    Processes
    • Milk samples are taken during collection
    • Samples are sent to authorized laboratories for analysis based on different criteria
    Benefits
    • For farmers: quality-based milk payments
    • For dairies: manufacturing of quality dairy products
    • For consumers: a guarantee of food safety and organoleptic quality
    Collection
    Objective:

    Transport milk from the farm to the dairy

    Processes
    • Every two days, an isothermal refrigerated tanker collects the raw milk and transports it to the dairy.
    Benefits

    The cold chain is maintained

    Quality analysis
    Objective:

    Guarantee product quality

    Processes

    Samples are sent to laboratories to detect any traces of antibiotics or other substances that could negatively impact manufacturing

    Benefits
    • For dairies: manufacturing of quality dairy products
    • For consumers: a guarantee of food safety and organoleptic quality
    Unloading and storage at the dairy
    Objective:

    Transfer milk from the refrigerated tanker to the factory tank for storage before processing

    Processes
    • The milk is transferred from the tanker to the storage tank by a system of pipes.

    • Thermal preprocessing is possible before storage, to reduce the number of undesirable micro-organisms and improve the shelf life of milk.

    Benefits

    The cold chain is maintained.

    Quality analysis
    Objective:

    Guarantee product quality

    Processes:
    • Samples are taken throughout the manufacturing process.
    • Samples are sent to laboratories for analysis based on different criteria.
    Benefits:
    • For dairies: manufacturing of quality products
    • For consumers: a guarantee of food safety and organoleptic quality
    Skimming and standardization (cream content)
    Objective:

    Adjust the fat content

    Processes:
    • The milk is separated from the cream by centrifugal force. The cream leaves the separator at the top and the skimmed milk at the bottom.
    • In a mixing tank, different quantities of cream are added depending on the type of milk desired (standardization to the right level).

           - Whole milk contains 3.5% fat.
           - Semi-skimmed milk contains 1.5% fat.
           - Skimmed milk contains no fat.

    Benefits:

    This process ensures homogeneous fat content for each category of dairy product.

    Homogenization
    Objective:

    Ensure that fat is well distributed in milk

    Processes:
    Physical treatment enabling the fat globules to be split into very fine particles using high pressure
    Benefits:
    Prevents cream from rising to the surface of the milk
    UHT sterilization – ultra-heat treatment
    Objective:

    Destroy the micro-organisms in milk
    (UHT = ultra-high temperature)

    Processes:
    Milk is brought to a temperature of 140-150°C for two to three seconds, then cooled suddenly.
    Benefits:
    • Helps milk to be kept long term at room temperature
    • UHT treatment does not change the taste or nutritional value of milk.
    Packaging and refrigeration (4°C)
    Objective:

    Package the milk to be sold

    Processes:
    Milk is packaged in an aseptic environment, whether cartons or bottles are used. The packaging is hermetically sealed and opaque, shielding the milk from air and light for an optimal shelf life.
    Milking
    Storage
    Quality analysis
    Collection
    Quality analysis
    Unloading
    Quality analysis
    Skimming
    Homogenization
    Sterilization
    Packaging

Different types of milk

There are two main criteria for classifying milk: fat content and heat treatment. Regulation uses these criteria for precise definitions of different types of milk.

Fat content

Standardization (reincorporation of cream skimmed from the milk) enables the fat content of milk to be varied.
 

Whole milk

Fat content: at least 3.5% per litre.

Mostly red packaging

Semi-skimmed milk

Fat content: between 1.5% and 1.8% per litre

Mostly blue packaging

Skimmed milk

Fat content: less than 0.5%

Mainly green packaging
 

X% fat milk

Some types of milk have different fat content to whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk. This must be clearly indicated to one decimal place and be easily legible on the packaging, marked as “X% fat”.

Heat treatment

Milk contains micro-organisms that can develop after milking. Some are useful (e.g. lactic acid fermenting bacteria), while others are harmful to quality and can even be pathogenic in rare cases.

Raw milk

“Raw milk” or “fresh raw milk” mentioned by law on packaging

No treatment except refrigeration after milking on the farm

Bottled on the farm
Mainly yellow packaging

 

Microfiltered milk

Milk obtained by microfiltration: a porous membrane removes bacteria from the skimmed milk, retaining the microbial flora without modifying its physical and chemical properties.

Packaged, then immediately cooled to under 6°C

Pasteurized fresh milk

Label used for milk that has been:

  • Heated to 72°C for 15 seconds (minimum treatment)
  • Cooled after pasteurisation to under 6°C.

Fresh pasteurized milk represents less than 2% of the French market today.

Sterilized milk

Simple sterilization is a process to extend the shelf-life of milk.

Sealed in airtight packaging, heated to 115°C for 15 to 20 minutes, then cooled

May be kept for three months at room temperature

 

 

 

UHT sterilized milk

UHT = ultra high temperature

A specific sterilization technique, heating milk to 140°C for 2 seconds

The most popular type of milk sold in France: 95% of the market

Other segmentation criteria

Other differentiation criteria include:
  - Reduced lactose
  - Flavouring 
  - Organic
  - Concentrated (sweetened or unsweetened)
  - Powdered
  - Infant formula

Unsweetened concentrated milk

Concentration by partial evaporation of the water in milk

Standardized, pasteurized then concentrated under partial vacuum and homogenized

Best before date: 12 to 18 months after manufacturing

Sweetened concentrated milk

Unsterilized, pasteurized milk sweetened with 70% sucrose, concentrated under partial vacuum and packaged

2.2 litres of liquid milk = 1 kg of sweetened concentrated milk

“Sweetened” mentioned on packaging by law

Baby milk (drinking milk or formula)

Complex recipes to meet the specific nutritional needs of infants and toddlers

3 categories:
 - Babies aged 0-6 months 
 - Infants aged 6 to 10-12 months

 - “Growing-up” milks: up to 3 years

Rich ingrédients

Cow’s milk: rich in nutrients

Cow’s milk offers very rich content
 

On average, 1 litre of raw milk contains around 900 g of water and 130 g of dry matter, in varying proportions..

Its bulk density is 1,030 g/L for a litre of whole milk with 40 g/L of fat.

 

 

Non-standardized milk contains:

Composirion of milk

 

What about milk from sheep and goats?

Comparison of milk from sheep and cows:

sheep milk VS cow milk

Note: sheep’s milk is richer than cow’s milk.

Comparison of milk from goats and cows:

goat's milk VS cow's milk

The nutritional content of milk

Milk is good for people of any age. Its nutritional benefits come from its unique ingredients.

  • Calcium

    Milk provides calcium, which helps to build the bone structure during childhood and adolescence, as well as maintain bone health throughout life.

  • Protein

    Milk contains proteins, which are of high nutritional value, with all the essential amino acids.

  • Carbohydrates

    Milk’s sweet taste comes from lactose, the main sugar.

  • Fat

    Its smooth, unctuous texture comes from fat, which carries fat-soluble vitamins (A and D).

  • Water

    Milk is also made up of 87% water, which is essential to life. Water carries water-soluble vitamins (mainly from group B).

Milk: beneficial throughout life