The Country That Produces The Most Butter Might Surprise You

When you think about butter, you probably think about Americans or Northern Europeans using it to slather chunks of bread or, as Anthony Bourdain once admitted to Oprah, as the tasty addition that enters every dish as the first and last ingredient. However, in terms of actual butter production, both groups combined barely make as much butter as the world's leading butter producer.

According to a graph published by Statista in December 2020, India produces 6.1 million metric tons, compared to the 2.45 million metric tons of the European Union as a whole and 959 thousand metric tons of the United States. Similarly, Bizvibe reports that with their 22 percent contribution to the world market, India is also the largest producer of milk on the planet. Bizvibe attributes the growth of this production to increases in population, income, and health consciousness. With a current population that World Meter places over one billion, India needs to produce more dairy to fuel the demand. 

Also worth noting is that India is not among the 10 largest exporters of milk, meaning that the massive stores of milk are consumed domestically and almost certainly help fuel the staggering size of the nation's butter industry.

Indians eat a lot of that butter

Of those millions of metric tons of butter, 4.4 kilograms are consumed per capita in India, according to a separate graph shared by Statista. In this case, ghee is included in the calculation.

The separation of the two in production and joining of them in consumption makes broad sense when you consider the general history of butter and ghee. Web Exhibits posits that butter developed in the north perhaps as a result of the natural churning of milk carried on horseback in bags. The climate in the south caused butter to spoil quickly, which laid the reasoning for the people in those warmer locales to develop ghee (pictured above), a clarified butter.

Clarifying butter, as Milkio details, is a rather straightforward affair that you can do in your own kitchen with a bit of time and care. Take unsalted butter, melt it in a saucepan without browning it, skim the foam, and boil the fat until caramelized. Then, remove from the heat and allow it to settle. Skim off the foam and strain the whole through cheesecloth so that milk solids do not mingle with the ghee. Voilà! Clarified butter.