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The dairy processing industry in 2011 was marked by changes in ownership and in the executive suite. Processors were busy introducing new products and expanding their production plants. But one thing did not change: Dallas-based Dean Foods Co. remains the top dairy processor (based on sales) in the 19th annual Dairy 100, Dairy Foods’ ranking of North America’s largest processors of milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and other dairy foods.

By and large, the information published in this report comes from the processors themselves. Dairy Foods asked representatives to review and revise previously collected information about their companies’ brands, products and plants. For companies reporting revenues in foreign currencies, we converted to U.S. dollars based on an average 2011 value. Some dairy processors did not provide annual sales. In those cases where we believe the processor is large enough to qualify for inclusion on this list, we made an estimate. Sales estimates, which are marked with an asterisk (*), are based on published news reports, business and government databases, industry trends, competitors’ insights or Dairy Foods’ “best guess.”

Click here to view the list of the top dairy processors in the Dairy 100.


Mergers and acquisitions

Since our last report, dairy processors and other businesses have been on the prowl for companies and facilities to acquire. In March 2012, retail giant Meijer acquired the processing facility of Bareman’s Dairy in Holland, Mich. Meijer will process dairy products for its stores. In related news, Prairie Farms Dairy acquired the rights to the Bareman’s Dairy brand and all of Bareman’s distribution facilities, along with rights to distribute the brand throughout the Great Lakes region. Prairie Farms also acquired Tiller Foods in August 2011.

In July of this year, dairy co-op Land O’Lakes acquired pudding maker Kozy Shack Enterprises.

Dairy Farmers of America acquired Kemps LLC from HP Hood in 2011. Kemps had purchased Cass-Clay Creamery of Fargo, N.D. In February of this year, DFA acquired Guida’s Milk, a 125-year-old family-owned milk and beverage processor in Connecticut.

Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery purchased Blaser’s cheese in 2011. The Irish Dairy Board acquired Thiel Cheese & Ingredients in October 2011.


Executive changes

Changes in management since our last report include those at Meuthuen, Mass.-based co-op Agri-Mark, where Richard Stammer took over as CEO on Nov. 1, 2011, succeeding Paul P. Johnston, who retired after 47 years. In February of this year, the Canadian-based co-op Agropur named Robert Coallier CEO to replace Pierre Claprood, who retired.

Richard L. Cotta retired from California Dairies Inc. and Andrei Mikhalevsky was appointed president and CEO of the Visalia, Calif.-based processor.

On Jan. 1, 2012 at Davisco Foods International, Jon Davis became the third member of his family to serve as president and CEO. His father Mark and his grandfather Stanley previously held those positions.

L. Keith Collins was promoted to president of Milkco, the Ingles Markets dairy subsidiary. Collins succeeded Charles Gaither, who retired.


New products

Dairy processors were busy developing new products and SKUs in 2011. Bel Brands in June 2011 launched Boursin Gourmet Spreadable Cheese, a new flavored product line sold in premium re-sealable containers. In February 2012, it introduced The Laughing Cow Smooth Sensations cream cheese.

Dean launched TruMoo flavored milks for school foodservice and for retail sales in September 2011.

Grassland Dairy Products began producing instantized dairy protein powders under the brands NutraPro and Nutrose. Hilmar Cheese Co. introduced Hilmar 9000 whey protein isolate for nutrition bars, ready-to-drink beverages and other applications needing a high-quality protein.

HP Hood started producing private-label Greek yogurts at its Vernon, N.Y., plant. Kozy Shack Enterprises introduced a bread pudding product.

Kraft Foods launched Athenos spreadable cheese, Cracker Barrel seasoned Cheddars, MilkBite milk and granola bars and Fresh Take, a cheese-and-bread crumbs seasoning mix for chicken, fish and other meats. Other product introductions include Velveeta dips and Philadelphia Indulgence, a line of flavored cream cheeses.

Oakhurst Dairy began producing low-fat milk with omega-3s and various flavored iced teas in pints and half-gallons.

Oregon Ice Cream Co. began making coconut-milk-based ice creams and novelties under the Julie’s Organic brand and launched low-fat organic ice creams and sherbets in its Alden’s brands.

Organic Valley started selling a drinkable, blended yogurt, flavored half-and-half and flavored soy creamers, and launched New York Fresh, a brand of milk from New York state farmers.

Sartori introduced four cheese varieties: salsa Asiago, espresso BellaVitano, extra-aged Fontina and Mediterranean Fontina. Smith Dairy Products introduced an all-natural sour cream and Ruggles Greek frozen yogurt.

Stonyfield came out with Oikos organic frozen Greek yogurt and Stonyfield dark chocolate covered nonfat frozen yogurt novelty bars. Tillamook County Creamery Association launched a light yogurt made with stevia sweetener and 32-ounce low-fat plain and vanilla bean yogurts, among other products. WaWa Beverage Co. began running ice cream mix.



Dairy processors were honored for their efforts in product development, manufacturing and sustainability. For example, Byrne Dairy won first place in the 2011 New York State Fair fluid milk quality competition. Darigold is the first recipient of the U.S. Dairy Export Council Award for Outstanding Dairy Processing & Manufacturing Sustainability. It received the award in March 2012.

McDonalds USA named Dean Foods its supplier of the year. The dairy farm operation of Kleinpeter Farms Dairy earned a fourth consecutive perfect score from the American Humane Association.

Perry’s Ice Cream received the 2011 Innovation Award from the International Dairy Foods Association for a red velvet ice cream and Sour Buddie Bars novelties.

Sartori won 37 awards, including those at the United States Championship Cheese Contest, the Wisconsin State Fair, the World Dairy Expo, the American Cheese Society competition and the European Global Cheese Awards.

Those receiving honors from Dairy Foods were: Kraft Foods (2011 Processor of the Year), Leprino Foods Co. (Exporter of the Year) and the Mars Ice Cream facility in Burr Ridge, Ill. (2012 Plant of the Year, see page 30).


Plant expansions

Dairy processors invested in building new facilities or updating existing plants in 2011 and the first half of 2012. Agro Farma (maker of Chobani) began construction on a facility in Twin Falls, Idaho, its second manufacturing plant in the United States.

Associated Milk Producers Inc. installed 18 new cheese vats at its plants in Blair and Jim Falls, Wis. AMPI said the $7.5 million investment is projected to increase cheese production by 3.6 million pounds annually.

In January 2012, Bel Brands said it will invest $100 million to build a 170,000-square-foot facility in Brookings, S.D., where it will process Mini Babybel brand cheeses.

Dairy Farmers of America broke ground on an ingredients plant in Fallon, Nev., this year. The facility will be able to process 2 million pounds of raw milk daily.

Dean Foods began production from a new WhiteWave plant in Dallas. Dannon opened a research-and-development center at its White Plains, N.Y., headquarters. It moved its pilot plant from Fort Worth, Texas, to the R&D center.

Foremost Farms completed the expansion of a plant in Appleton, Wis., doubling the capacity to 130 million pounds of mozzarella cheese. It installed a new anhydrous dryer for pharmaceutical lactose and a new evaporator at its Rothschild, Wis., facility. Great Lakes Cheese acquired a blue cheese manufacturing plant in Seymour, Wis., in April 2012.

HP Hood installed a low-acid rotary aseptic filling line at its plant in Sacramento, Calif. Leprino Foods Co. opened a plant in Greeley, Colo., in November 2011 and a business center in Singapore in August 2011. Swiss Valley Farms began producing at Shullsburg, Wis., in a joint venture with Emmi-Roth Kase called White Hill Cheese Co.

Tillamook County Creamery Association received Level 2 SQF certification at both of its plants and began a facility upgrade at its Tillamook facility that includes the starter room, clean-in-place room and locker rooms for production employees.

Upstate Niagara Cooperative officially opened a subsidiary plant, North Country Dairy, in North Lawrence, N.Y.


Anniversaries and milestones

It is truly an accomplishment to remain in business in light of mergers and acquisition and the competitive nature of dairy processing. First District Association celebrated its 90th anniversary year in 2011, as did Oakhurst Dairy.

TCBY celebrated its 30th anniversary, Lifeway Foods made it to its 25th and Dean’s Horizon Organic notched its 20th. Hershey Creamery Co. achieved $100 million in sales for the first time in its history. 


Associate editor Sarah Kennedy contributed research in compiling the Dairy 100 rankings.


Nestle is the world’s largest dairy firm

Company        Headquarters            2011 Revenues

1. Nestle         Switzerland    $25.9 billion

2. Danone       France            $19.5 billion

3. Lactalis       France            $18.8 billion

4. Fonterra     New Zealand  $15.7 billion

5. Friesland/Campania         Netherlands   $13.4 billion

Source: Rabobank


Land O’Lakes is the Dairy 100’s largest co-op

Company        Headquarters            2011 Revenues

1. Land O’Lakes         St. Paul, Minn.            $4.3 billion

2. Agropur     Canada           $3.6 billion

3. Dairy Farmers of America           Kansas City, Mo.        $3.3 billion

4. Prairie Farms Dairy          Carlinville, Ill. $2.7 billion

5. California Dairies  Visalia, Calif.   $2.1 billion

Source: Company reports, compiled by Dairy Foods


Dean Foods is the Dairy 100’s largest public company

Company        Headquarters            2011 Revenues

1. Dean Foods Co.     Dallas  $12.7 billion

2. Nestle USA Oakland, Calif.            $9.9 billion*

3. Saputo        Canada           $6.8 billion

4. Kraft Foods            Northfield, Ill. $4 billion

5. Kroger        Cincinnati, Ohio         $2.4 billion*

Source: Company reports, compiled by Dairy Foods. * denotes a Dairy Foods estimate. Company does not report specific dairy-related activity.


Schreiber Foods is the Dairy 100’s largest privately owned company

Company        Headquarters            2011 Revenues

1. Schreiber Foods    Green Bay, Wis.         $3.5 billion

2. Leprino Foods       Denver           $2.6 billion*

3. Great Lakes Cheese          Hiram, Ohio    $2.2 billion

4. Borden Dairy Co.  Dallas  $2 billion

5. HP Hood     Lynnfield, Mass.         $2 billion

Source: Company reports, compiled by Dairy Foods. * denotes a Dairy Foods estimate.

Click here to view the list of the top dairy processors in the Dairy 100.