A recent Italian study on milk consumption nationwide described Albania as a Milk Democracy, referring to the high consumption of milk before and after the 90s. The study ranks Albania in the fourth spot among all other world countries for milk consumption per capita.

According to the study, if these figures on milk would be an accurate indicator of democracy then the “milk democracy” phase would be correct to use. FAO figures also cited by Albanian statistics institutions show that each year represent a new trend on milk consumption. The more milk people consume the further away the country moves from a possible dictatorship.

Data on Albania show that back in 1961 an average Albanian adult consumed 97.66 litres of milk per year. 20 years later Albania was still a dictatorship, but its ruler was sick. At the time, Albanians consumed 133.98 litres of milk/year. Democracy came knocking and milk consumption boomed to 301,2 litres per capita, hence ranking the fourth country in the world for milk consumption/capita. Netherlands, Montenegro and Lithuania have all grabbed a higher spot. How come Albanians, Montenegrin, Lithuanians or Romanians are still on top when it comes to milk? The study notes that their high dependency is due to the management of ration feeding during dictatorship.

A second explanation can be found at the country’s culinary. Milk is a key component for many of dishes in Balkans and Northern Europe. You have all sorts of pies in the Balkans that you combine them with milk, cheese, yogurt, curd cheese etc.

Another hypothesis is that people have increased their dose of milk because they have more money. Is milk rich people’s food? The study raises a lot of questions on this issue underlining that drinking too much milk is not healthy.

Why do Albanians drink too much milk?

When we were kids we had no other choice but to drink milk. Our parents warned that if we did not drink milk we wouldn’t grow. Considering that we did not have a swallow’s milk (Albanians believed that having swallow’s milk was equal to having it all), cow’s milk would suffice. Years have passed and since then scientists have research the values and count effects of milk. Researchers agree that milk has undeniable impact on bone strength. 

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Albania produce 1,131,156 ton milk annually. During an interview for AgroWeb Merita Uruçi, executive director of the Albanian Dairy and Meat Association said that Albania ranks among countries with an above EU average consumption of milk because of its farming culture. “Milk and all of its by-products are available in our daily dishes. We have noted a high ratio of milk consumption mostly because producers and farmers also consume it on their own” Mr Uruçi explained.

Other experts told AgroWeb that consumption per capita can not be calculated in Albania’s case because there is a shortage of data for livestock and milk consumption by farmers as well. Furthermore there are some noted problems in tracing and tracking livestock and including them in a proper registry.

There are many different varieties of milk available for consumption in Albania and abroad. You can read it about them below:

1. Whole Milk is 3.5% milk fat that has a rich, creamy texture which makes it very delicious. Babies that have stopped drinking mother’s milk, usually drink whole milk until they are at least two years old. The fatty acids in whole milk are important to the development of the brain and the nervous system.

2. 2% Low-fat Milk has the benefits of less milk fat, but still tastes great. It has 10 grams of protein per cup. Two per cent milk is almost as popular as whole milk.

3. 1% Low-fat Milk is made by reducing the milk-fat content even more. This milk, is fortified with skim milk, enriching it with vitamin and minerals. One per cent milk is great for people on diets and women and girls who want a concentrated source of calcium.

4. Skim Milk is one of the most nutrient-dense foods of all. It has as much fat as possible removed, less than ½ gram per serving, and 45% less calories than whole milk. Yet skim milk still supplies all of the nutrients of whole milk.
5. Rice Milk is made from ground rice, and is very low in fat and calories. Rice Milk is a good alternative for people suffering from allergies. This milk is dense in calcium and is sweeter than soya milk.

6. Soya milk has high levels of protein and represents good options for vegetarians. Soya milk has a high fat content and can be used by infants until 2 years old who have a low tolerance on cow’s milk. Soya milk protective benefits against cancer, but other studies have shown that women that suffer from breast cancer must limit their soya food intake.

7. Almond milk is an alternative option of nutritional values for those who do not like dairy products. Almond milk is a very important source of calcium and is easily digestible. Figures have shown that almond milk is a very good ally of women that want to lose weight. Almond milk is also rich in non-saturated fats and helps against heart diseases.

There are 71 varieties of milk in the world to meet the needs of every consumer in the world. Nowadays we can find everything but that particular swallow’s milk that we never got the chance to taste!/AgroWeb.org/