Dean Foods, America’s Largest Milk Producer, Files for Bankruptcy

Dean Foods on Tuesday announced that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The Dallas-based milk processor said that it plans to use the Chapter 11 proceedings to keep running the business, and address debt and unfunded debt obligations as it seeks to sell the company.

Dean Foods’ business has struggled as more consumers turn to nondairy milk or buy private-label products.

Dean Foods also said it is engaged in “advanced discussions” with the Dairy Farmers of America about selling “substantially” all of its assets. Even if both parties agree to the sale, the transaction would be subject to receiving higher or better offers while the company is in bankruptcy.

Customers are expected to receive their dairy products without any interruptions.

Americans’ per capita consumption of fluid milk has fallen 26% in the last two decades, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The company’s bankruptcy filing comes as the country’s dairy farmers are also struggling to adapt to the changing milk market. Falling dairy prices, trade turmoil and a labor shortage has hit farmers hard.

Dean Foods’ portfolio includes DairyPure®, the country’s first and largest fresh, white milk national brand, and TruMoo®, the leading national flavored milk brand, along with well-known regional dairy brands such as Alta Dena®, Berkeley Farms®, Country Fresh®, Dean’s®, Garelick Farms®, Friendly’s®, LAND O LAKES® milk and cultured products*, Lehigh Valley Dairy Farms®, Mayfield®, McArthur®, Meadow Gold®, Oak Farms®, PET®, T.G. Lee®, Tuscan® and more. Dean Foods also has a joint venture with Organic Valley®, distributing fresh organic products to local retailers.

The LAND O LAKES brand is owned by Land O’Lakes, Inc. and is used by license. PET is a trademark of Eagle Family Foods Group LLC and is also used under license.

In all, Dean Foods has more than 50 local and regional dairy brands and private labels. Dean Foods also makes and distributes ice cream, cultured products, juices, teas, and bottled water. The company has more than 16,000 employees across the country.