America's Largest Milk Producer Declares Bankruptcy

Jugs of Mc Arthur Dairy milk a Dean Foods brand at a grocery store

The processor - which employs about 15,000 people in the USA and owns a number of brands including DairyPure, TruMoo and Berkeley Farms - said that it intends to use the bankruptcy process to "protect and support its ongoing business operations and address debt and unfunded pension obligations while it works towards an orderly and efficient sale".

"We continue to be impacted by a challenging operating environment marked by continuing declines in consumer milk consumption". In an email to BevNET, Good Karma CEO Doug Radi said Dean Foods' bankruptcy has "no impact" on the brand, which remains an independent company with a separate leadership team and board of directors.

In a press release on their website, it says, "The Company has received a commitment of approximately $850 million in debtor-in-possession financing from certain of its existing lenders, led by Rabobank".

Dean Foods, American's largest milk producer, announced today the company is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

That's not the only problem Dean Foods has faced.

According to Nielsen data, US sales of oat milk rose 636% to more than $52 million just in the previous year.

The milk-processor, based in Dallas, said it will use the bankruptcy protection to keep running the business and deal with debt and unfunded debt obligations while it seeks to sell itself to the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative.

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An increasing variety of beverages, including teas and sodas, has hurt milk consumption.

The decline can be blamed on everything from dairy prices to more productive cows and, of course, millennials. Dairy sales are up 2.5% as of August 2019 with cheese and butter at an all-time consumption high.

Two-thirds of Dean Foods' sales came from fluid milk past year, according to its annual report.

The company employs around 16,000 people, operating more than 60 processing facilities across the country.

Dean Foods Co. has lost money in eight of its last 10 quarters and in seven of its last eight quarters it's posted declining sales.

Founded in 1925, Dean Foods' brand portfolio includes more than 50 national and regional dairy brands, including Country Fresh, DairyPure, Friendly's, Garelick Farms, Land O'Lakes, Meadow Gold, Oak Farms Dairy, Swiss Premium, TruMoo and Tuscan Dairy Farms, among others. The company has produced milk and other products at its downtown Boise plant, at 1301 W. Bannock St., since 1950, according to records from the Ada County Assessors Office.

Dean's bankruptcy was the "clearest option" for addressing the pension and debt load, Wells Fargo equity analyst John Baumgartner said in a note. It was bought by Suiza Foods in 2001.

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