10 Years, 100 Companies
by James Dudlicek
Dairy Field Celebrates a
Decade of Change in the Industry.
Dairy Field published its first Top 100 ranking of dairy
processors in 1995 and since then has kept a watchful eye on the successes,
failures, acquisitions and consolidations that have made the list a virtual
living, breathing entity.
Just a decade ago, Dean Foods Co. was ranked fifth,
still based in the Chicago area where it began, with 24 plants and $1.44
billion in sales. Suiza was just getting its feet wet in the dairy
business. My, how things change.
In 1995, Kraft held the top spot, with an estimated
$3.3 billion in annual dairy product sales. Reporting about double that
now, the cheese giant has held the No. 2 spot since the Dean-Suiza
Ten years ago, only four companies ranked with less
than $100 million in sales. The bottom end dips much lower today, while the
top end rises higher. Acquisitions and consolidations have fattened the
high-end players, broadened the middle and allowed smaller companies that
have managed to preserve their independence to find a place among the Top
Among the names that have disappeared from their
own rankings, to be found under the banner of others or elsewhere:
Mid-America Dairymen (now DFA), Borden (DFA), BolsWessanen (former owner of
Crowley and Kemps), Häagen-Dazs (Nestlé), Stella (Saputo),
Morningstar Group (Dean), Southern Foods Group (Dean), Barber Dairies
(Dean), Garelick Farms (Dean), Ralphs Grocery (Kroger), Berkeley Farms
(Dean), Michael Foods (Dean).
But enough about the past — what does the list
of today look like, and how does it compare to last year?
Well, there are no surprises in the top three; Dean,
Kraft and Land O’Lakes continue to hold those spots quite firmly. But
Schreiber leapt to fourth place from sixth, as the cheesemaking powerhouse
continues to grow through strategic acquisitions and product development in
the private label arena. Grocery giant Kroger dropped from fourth to fifth,
while Dairy Farmers of America rose up to sixth from its 10th-place slot last
More than a year after its acquisition of Kemps and
Crowley, HP Hood is enjoying its new home in the top 10 at seventh place.
Mozzarella monster Leprino Foods continues to hold the No. 8 position.
Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream dropped from seventh to
ninth, while still enjoying a year of plant expansions and product
successes. Rounding out the upper tenth of the list is Dreyer’s rival
Good Humor-Breyers, which breaks into the top 10 after sniffing at it from
the No. 11 spot on last year’s ranking.
Other changes: Farmland Dairies has emerged from the
ashes of Parmalat USA to administer its extensive UHT fluid operations.
Mainstay Santee Dairies now goes by the name Heartland Farms. We’ve
opted to list Ahold USA’s dairy manufacturing operations as Giant
Food this year, though with its plants on the block, this listing will
likely soon disappear altogether.
New to the ranking this year: Cold-pack king
Bel/Kaukauna, back on the list after an unexplained absence, at 64th;
Wisconsin cheesemaker Grande at 65th; Schneider’s Dairy of
Pennsylvania at 90th; California cheese manufacturer Joseph Gallo Farms at
upstate New York favorite Perry’s Ice Cream at 94th; Sartori Foods,
another Wisconsinite, at 95th; and Bluegrass Dairy of Kentucky — one
of the first to call us after last year’s ranking was
published — on the tail end at 100th.
But with the new comes a loss of some of the old:
Dippin’ Dots, a first-timer in 2004, just missed a second ranking at
along with Old Home Foods (the Minnesota cultured processor whose cottage
cheese I love), Vermont frozen novelty maker Rhino Foods and Ohio’s
Velvet Ice Cream.
Thanks to all the companies who helped us out by
providing information for the ranking. Even if you didn’t make it
this time, we’d still like to hear from you again. The industry is
dynamic, and the rankings are bound to keep changing (especially if someone
above you gets gobbled up by someone above them).
Most of the information within this report was
provided through the gracious cooperation of the processors. Information
for companies that chose not to reveal sales figures or otherwise
participate was found at Hoover’s Online or estimated based on annual
reports and other industry information. Rankings are based on reported
sales of finished dairy products.
If your company was omitted and you’d like to be
considered for next year’s ranking, please contact us at (847)
205-5660 ext. 4009 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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