The big keep getting bigger. So do the small, for that matter. More than one-third of the dairy processors on the Dairy 100 have annual revenues of $1 billion or more. In the previous report, 33 dairies broke that barrier; this report identifies 36 billion-dollar dairy processors. Five years ago just 29 plants were billion-dollar operations.

At the other end of the list, the price of admission has risen. Last year, No. 100 had sales of $100 million. This year, No. 100 reported sales of $105 million.

This is our 22nd annual Dairy 100 report of the largest dairy processors based in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Three companies are based in Canada and one in Mexico. Wisconsin is the state that is home to the most Dairy 100 firms (12), followed by California and Minnesota (each with 10). See our interactive map for the complete list of headquarters of the  Dairy 100.

Nestle USA, based in Glendale, Calif., retains its No. 1 spot. Sales of its ice cream, frozen desserts, milk-based beverages and bottled water totaled $9.7 billion. No. 3 Saputo, based in Montreal, is the largest Canadian-based dairy processor. It reported sales of more than $8 billion in the 12 months ended March 31, 2015. No. 12 Grupo LaLa is the only dairy based in Mexico on the Dairy 100. LaLa’s 2014 sales were $2.9 billion.

Dairy Foods compiled the list by soliciting information from company officers. For those dairies that did not self-report revenues, Dairy Foods made estimates, which are clearly marked with an asterisk. We drew upon a number of sources, including company annual reports and filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the Federal Drug Administration’s Interstate Milk Shippers list, the AtoZ Databases, ReferenceUSA and other published reports.

The Dairy 100 listings includes links to company websites and, for publicly held corporations, to their annual reports and other financial data.

Since our last report, the dairy industry has seen mergers, changes in the executive boardroom, investments in plants and new product introductions. Below are some notable examples that occurred in 2014 and early 2015.

Mergers, acquisitions and new names

Perhaps the biggest dairy-related merger is between the H.J. Heinz Co. and No. 7 Kraft Foods Group, which includes Kraft’s cheese and dairy division, announced in March 2015. The combined company will be known as the Kraft Heinz Co. and will be co-headquartered in Pittsburgh and Chicago. The new company will have revenues of approximately $28 billion with eight $1+ billion brands and five brands between $500 million and $1 billion.

No. 5 Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) acquired the Dairylea Cooperative of New York state and family-owned Oakhurst Dairy of Maine.

No. 75 Gehl Foods of Germantown, Wis., was acquired by private equity firm Wind Point Partners in March 2015. In July of this year, the Texas billionaire Sid Bass became an investor in No. 58 Blue Bell Creameries, which this spring shut down ice cream production temporarily because of a mass  product recall after Listeria was found to be present at all three of its plants.

In May, Thiel Cheese & Ingredients (Hilbert, Wis.) and Meadow Ingredients (Byron, Minn.) changed their names to Ornua Ingredients North America (No. 92), a subsidiary of Ornua Co-operative Ltd. Ornua was previously known as the Irish Dairy Board.

No. 63 Brewster Cheese, the largest producer of Swiss cheese in the United States, changed its name from Brewster Dairy “to reflect our business of making cheese,” according to a company statement.

No. 28 Savencia Fromage & Dairy is the new name of France’s Bongrain.

Who’s who in the boardroom

No. 16 Darigold named William Krippaehne its Interim President and CEO when former President & CEO Jim Wegner announced his retirement for Jan. 1, 2016. Until that date, Wegner is assisting Krippaehne as Executive Vice President, Special Projects.

At No. 25 Foremost Farms USA Michael Doyle was named president & CEO, succeeding David Fuhrmann, who retired as president. Tim Omer is the new managing director at No. 72 Emmi Roth USA.

Ralph Scozzafava joined No. 2 Dean Foods as executive vice president and chief commercial officer. No. 42 Tillamook County Creamery Association hired Steve Patience as vice president of Tillamook food ingredients and Mike Bever as vice president of operations. David Booth  is the new vice president of sales, succeeding Jay Allison, who retired. Mark Wustenberg’s title changed to vice president of quality and producer relations.

Capital improvements and divestitures

No. 9 Great Lakes Cheese opened a cut/wrap plant in Manchester Tenn., while No. 27 Safeway added ESL (extended shelf life) processing to its plant in San Leandro, Calif.

After two years, No. 6 Schreiber Foods completed construction of a new Global Technology Center and home office in downtown Green Bay, Wis. It reports the new five-story headquarters combines modern office amenities with state-of-the-art facilities for food product development and testing. 

In 2014, Schreiber took ownership of four European plants in Sofia, Bulgaria; Benesov, Czech Republic; Castello Branco, Portugal; and Santa Cruz, Tenerife, Spain. In early 2015, the company acquired three more production facilities in Noblejas, Spain; Talavera de la Reina, Spain; and Zvolen, Slovakia, to help support Schreiber’s new fresh dairy (yogurt, fresh cheese and dairy desserts) business with supermarket chains in Spain.

No. 21 Associated Milk Producers Inc. said it has transitioned out of its retail-packaged cheese business to focus on foodservice customers. The co-op said it will develop its Portage, Wis., facility into a “super foodservice” plant. “We are redirecting floor space and capital to continue to grow AMPI’s foodservice business,” said  Co-president and CEO Sheryl Meshke.

No. 52 Michigan Milk Producers Association installed a reverse osmosis (RO) system at its plant in Constantine, in partnership with Foremost Farms USA and a butter churn in the Ovid plant. MMPA President Ken Nobis said the dairy cooperative has invested nearly $100 million in the last five years in dairy processing .

In 2014, DFA opened a dairy ingredients facility in Fallon, Nev., and a dairy ingredients plant in Linwood, N.Y. Construction continues on an ingredients plant in Cass City, Mich.

No. 14 Parmalat Canada will consolidate its cheese production and transfer the Marieville plant operations to Victoriaville, Quebec. No. 31 Yoplait USA is closing a yogurt plant in Meuthen, Mass. No. 36 Wells Enterprises closed a plant in St. George, Utah.

Honors and awards

Cheeses from No. 70 Sartori were named  Best of Class in the  2015 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest and won gold medals in the 2015 Mondial du Fromage and 2014 World Cheese Awards competitions.

Tillamook earned first place awards for cheeses and butter in the World Championship Cheese Contest, the American Cheese Society contest and the National Milk Producers Federation Cheese Contest.

No. 32 Sargento received an A.C. Nielsen Breakthrough Innovation Award and recognition from Women’s Health Magazine and Fitness Magazine. For the fifth consecutive year, Sargento was named a Top Workplace in Southeastern Wisconsin. No. 23 Dannonbecame the official yogurt of the National Football League.

For the second year in a row, the Swiss cheese produced at Schreiber’s Smithfield, Utah, plant took first place in the Idaho Milk Processors Association annual cheese contest in the Swiss class.  At last fall’s World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest, pineapple fruit-on-the-bottom Greek yogurt produced at Schreiber’s Richland Center, Wis., plant defended its championship in the yogurt category.


 This year marks No. 84 Anderson Erickson Dairy’s 85th year as a family-owned dairy.   

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