Gateway to dairy production and products

Collection and transport

In developing countries, most milk is produced by small-scale producers who are widely dispersed in rural areas, while the majority of markets are in urban areas. The logistical challenge of linking producers to markets is compounded by the highly perishable nature of milk, which calls for streamlined collection and transport. When the price of milk is low, or transport is not viable, any surplus milk that is not suckled by the offspring or consumed by the producer may be wasted.

Collection systems vary significantly according to the prevailing conditions. A system commonly used by small-scale producers in developing countries consists of simple collection points with shade, to minimize the temperature rise of milk.

Milk can be transported in milk cans or bulk tankers, which should be suitable for effective cleaning and sanitization. Generally, milk from small-scale milk producers is transported in milk cans by the producers themselves or by milk collectors (informal traders and intermediaries). Milk collectors usually collect milk cans from several producers and then transport them – by bicycle, animal, vehicle or foot – to local/urban markets, family shops, stands, canteens or small-scale processing plants. Milk in cans is uncooled or barely cooled, so the duration of transport is of primary importance in ensuring the delivery of good-quality milk. An advantage of using milk cans is that the milk from different producers is not mixed, avoiding the risk of spoiling good milk with low-quality batches. The milk produced in large-scale commercial dairy operations is usually transported in bulk tankers. As milk tankers are insulated, the milk is still cool when it arrives at its destination and unlikely to turn sour before reaching a distant processing plant or market.

Did you know?

  • The costs of milk collection and transport represent a significant share – often more than 30 percent – of milk processing costs.
  • In tropical regions, problems with access to milk production sites worsen in the wet season, as heavy rains may damage roads and bridges. However, this is often the season with higher milk production.
  • Organization of producers’ groups can facilitate improved milk collection and transportation because the transport of small quantities by individual producers is generally unviable.