It placed third in the 2021 Dairy 100. It placed second in the 2022 Dairy 100. This year it is No. 1. 

Kansas City, Kan.-based Dairy Farmers of America Inc. (DFA) took over the top spot on the 2023 Dairy 100 — based upon 2022 or a company’s latest fiscal-year revenues — with Land O’Lakes Inc. placing second and Saputo placing third as it has done for the past two years.  

There’s no doubting that DFA had a banner year for the 12-month period that ended Dec. 31. The cooperative’s revenues increased by 27% year over year (or $5.2 billion) to $24.5 billion. The increase is a result of higher U.S. milk prices and higher overall product prices, DFA stated.

“Like so many industries, [2022 was] a challenging year for dairy with labor shortages, global supply chain disruptions, record-level energy costs and inflation. Yet through the challenges, we focused on driving performance and greater efficiencies across the enterprise to bring short- and long-term value to our farmer-owners,” Dennis Rodenbaugh, DFA president and CEO, stated earlier this year. “Dairy Farmers of America was formed 25 years ago by farmers. It is fully owned and governed to its deepest grassroots level by dairy farmers. Our purpose has been consistent since our inception. Everything we do is about creating value and benefit for our farm families.”

Much of the rest of the top 10 in 2023 stayed the same in terms of ranking compared to 2022. The one exception is Agropur, which moved up one slot to No. 7 on the list. However, Rich Products Corp. — achieving $5 billion in revenues in 2022 — came inches away from joining the top 10, rising four slots versus last year and placing 11th on the list, just behind Schreiber Foods.

Also just outside of the top 10, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc. could also find its way there soon, moving up one slot this year to No. 16, following a strong 2022, in which it achieved $4.2 billion in net revenue. 

In addition, Darigold Inc. had a robust 2022, with posted revenues of $3 billion, good enough to move up from No. 22 on the list last year to No. 19 this year.

Other “movers and shakers” on the list were Associated Milk Producers Inc., which jumped from a tie for 27th place to the 25th slot, following 2022 revenues of $2 billion; Foremost Farms USA, whose $2.1 billion in net sales was good enough for a four-slot increase to No. 23; Emmi Americas Division climbed two spots to No. 29 with a 2022 revenue of $1.867 billion; Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., with revenue of nearly $1.5 billion, jumped four spots; and Agri-Mark Inc., notched $1.243 billion in revenue to claim the 38th spot. 

How we compiled the list

We began our research by contacting all of the company’s on last year’s Dairy 100 list to request information, including their 2022 (or most recent) revenues and any other updates. We also requested information from companies that almost made last year’s list or underwent a growth spurt in 2022. For public companies that did not respond to us, we relied on publicly available information regarding revenues. For private companies and cooperatives that did not respond, we estimated revenue — relying, in part, on company news and sources that include but are not limited to reports from Fortune and other publications. If this information was unavailable, we estimated revenues based upon prior information with a consumer price index increase due to inflation.

Among the Top 50 dairy companies, the largest year-over-year advancement belongs to Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, which skyrocketed six slots from No. 43 to No. 37 following a banner 2022, when the Herndon, Va.-based Coop. achieved $1.3 billion in revenue.

Within the 50-100 Dairy Top 100 listing, several companies saw major growth trajectory. Moving 33 spaces,  Valley Queen Cheese Factory Inc., Milbank., S.D., No. 87 in 2021 net revenue, moved to No. 54 with a 2022 net revenue of $600 million; Hershey’s Creamery Co., which was tied for the 94th spot in 2021, claimed the 86th spot while posting the same exact number net revenue as the previous year: $202 million; and Sovos Brands Inc., whose products in the Noosa brand portfolio including yoghurt, frozen yoghurt gelato and cheesecake bites, notched a 2022 net revenue of nearly $253 million, moving from the 83rd spot to No. 78.

Due to acquisitions, some dairy companies fell off the list. For instance, Baker Cheese was acquired by Sargento Foods in June 2022. Ferrero Group acquired Wells, securing key ice cream brands, while noting that Wells Enterprises will operate as a stand-alone business within the Ferrero Group. In early 2022, California Dairies Inc. became the sole owner of DairyAmerica after purchasing ownership rights from Agri-Mark, Inc. and O-AT-KA Milk Products.

Newcomers to the Dairy Top 100 included Continental Dairy Facilities Southwest in Littlefield, Texas, which generated $396 million in 2022 net revenue and claimed the 64th spot on the list. Also under parent company Dallas-based Select Milk Producers, Continental Dairy Facilities landed at No. 70 with $353 million in revenue. No. 92-based Lifeway Foods Inc., Morton Grove, Ill., makers of kefir, organic oatmilk, and farmer’s cheese, clocked in at $141.5 million, while multi-generation, family-owned Joseph Gallo Farms, Atwater, Calif., took spot No. 99 with $80.7 million in net revenue for production of its natural cheese.

Top 10 in 2023

1. Dairy Farmers of America Inc.

2. Land O’Lakes Inc.

3. Saputo Inc.

4. Nestlé North America

5. Lactalis Group, North American operations

6. Danone North America

7. Agropur

8. Savencia Fromage & Dairy, U.S. operations

9. Kraft Heinz Co.

10. Schreiber Foods Inc.

Top 10 in 2022

1. Land O’Lakes Inc.

2. Dairy Farmers of America Inc.

3. Saputo Inc.

4. Nestlé, Zone North America

5. Lactalis Group, North American operations

6. Danone North America

7. Savencia Fromage & Dairy, U.S. operations

8. Agropur

9. Kraft Heinz Co.

10. Schreiber Foods Inc.