On Nov. 12, Dean Foods Co. said it and substantially all of its subsidiaries initiated voluntary Chapter 11 reorganization proceedings in the Southern District of Texas. Dairy industry groups, including the Washington, D.C.-based International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), Rosemont, Ill., issued statements the same day in reaction to the news.
“In light of today’s news about Dean Foods, IDFA is working across our broad membership to ensure the industry continues to meet growing demand for dairy products,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA. “The fact remains that overall consumption of dairy products is at historic levels and demand for dairy in the United States and around the world increases each year.
“While we gather more information about how today’s news will impact our industry, IDFA is working to ensure a safe, reliable supply of milk continues to move from farmers to consumers,” he continued. “We will work across the industry to ensure farmer cooperatives remain competitive, dairy processors have a reliable supply of milk, retailers and grocers continue to put milk on the shelf, and consumers continue to make milk and other dairy products a key part of their diet. Fortunately, consumers are turning more and more to the goodness of dairy because it is delicious, nutritious, and affordable, and our industry will work together to ensure this positive growth story continues.”
For its part, DMI issued a statement regarding the overall strength of the dairy industry.
“The U.S. dairy community remains a strong and diverse sector, achieving consistent growth in per-capita consumption for 25 years in retail category worth over $100 billion,” DMI said. “In fact, domestic dairy sales are up 2.5% as of August 2019. Cheese and butter are at all-time consumption highs.
“Fluid milk remains a staple in 94% of U.S. households, and we’re seeing segments of strong growth in what is a $13.4 billion retail category,” DMI added. “In whole milk categories alone, there has been almost a billion dollars in growth over the last three years. We’ve seen pockets of growth in lactose-free as we’ve addressed the digestive concerns from consumers. And in flavored milk, we’ve seen growth with innovation and the proof that chocolate milk is the perfect post-exercise recovery beverage on the science side.
“In a decade shaped by a constantly changing marketplace, U.S. dairy has and will continue to successfully navigate the current economic environment. Dairy is well positioned to expand its growth through innovation designed to meet the changing tastes and needs of today’s consumers,” DMI continued. “The industry is rapidly evolving and now includes a much more diverse portfolio of products and innovation that drive consumption, including yogurt, cottage cheese and on-the-go beverages such as flavored coffees, smoothies and more.”