So long dairy! Dean Foods, the largest dairy company in the United States is closing yet another one of its milk processing plants, PET Dairy, in Richmond, VA because sales are so bad, according to Dairy Reporter.
PET Dairy has been in operation for more than 80 years with dairy plants in several states, producing a slew of dairy products but consumers are clearly done with even the most elaborate varieties of dairy considering this isn’t the first closure of a PET dairy plant. This latest closure follows others, including the closure of a Wisconsin plant in 2015, an Indiana plant the same year and closure of Lousiana-based Brown’s dairy in 2016.
This news doesn’t surprise us. The consumption of dairy has been facing a steady decline for decades. Today, Americans consume 37 percent less dairy than they did in 1970 and in the past year alone, consumption of low-fat milk plummeted by 13 percent. Not only that, but plant-based alternatives are on the rise. Within the past year, almond milk sales in the U.S. have risen by 4.2 percent, reaching just shy of being a $1 billion industry.
Dean Foods closing dairy plants due to poor sales is huge… The dairy industry has had a stronghold over U.S. consumers for decades – largely because of claims that dairy is the best way to get calcium and “build strong bones.” While these claims about the merits of milk and cheese have been blindly followed by many, consumers are starting to wake up. From concerns over growth hormones and antibiotics in milk to a rise in dairy allergies, and growing awareness of the environmental impact as well as animal welfare issues associated with milk, people are increasingly saying “see ya!” to dairy.
The dairy industry is still attempting to fight the “good” fight with celebrity athlete-driven campaigns like Milk Life, but when you consider the amount of new, innovative nondairy products that have been hitting the market, it seems like they’re just treading water. Perhaps Dean Food should take a cue from this 92-year-old dairy plant that made the switch to what people really want: plant-based milk. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!
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