America's largest milk producer files for bankruptcy

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Dean Foods, America's largest milk producer and home to multiple well-known brands, filed for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday.

The Dallas-based company announced it initiated Chapter 11 proceedings "to enable us to continue serving our customers and operating as normal as we work toward the sale of our business," Eric Beringause, who recently joined the Dean Foods as president and CEO, said in a statement.

Dean Foods products include Dairy Pure, TruMoo, Land O'Lakes, Lehigh Valley Dairy Farms and Oak Farms.

Its bankruptcy filing comes amid a sour year for the milk industry.

Last year, total sales dropped $1.1 billion, according to the Dairy Farmers of America. The net sales for 2018 were $13.6 billion, compared to $14.7 billion in 2017.

However, sales of dairy alternative products have been soaring.

Over a 52-week period that ended in June 2018, oat milk and non-dairy milk blends saw the highest growth, with dollar sales up 23% and 51%, respectively.

Dean Foods announced that it had received around $850 million in debtor-in-possession financing, a type of financing for companies that are financially distressed and in bankruptcy, from some existing lenders.

A potential sale of "substantially all assets" to Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. has been discussed, according to Dean Foods. If both parties reach an agreement, the sale would allow for higher or otherwise better offers in the bankruptcy.

Dean Foods will operate normally amid the reorganization efforts.

The company has approximately 15,000 employees across the country.

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