The dairy industry is on it’s way out! In the summer of 2017, Dean Foods, the largest dairy company in the United States, closed yet another one of its milk processing plants, PET Dairy, because sales were so bad. Just a few months later, Dean Foods reported that their net income dropped 91 percent.
Now, Dean Foods is ending contracts with a number of dairy farmers. At least two dozen producers who ship milk to Dean Foods in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennesee, North Carolina, and Ohio will now have until May 31st, 2018 to find a new place to sell their milk. This is a similar move that Grassland Dairy made about a year ago when their producers in Wisconsin were told they had 30 days to find a new way to sell their milk.
And this is only the beginning. Dean Foods said this could be just the first wave of contracts they are severing in 2018. What is their reasoning behind ending these contracts? “[This is due to] a surplus of raw milk at a time when the public already is consuming less fluid milk and companies assertively entering or expanding their presence in the milk processing business, have exacerbated an already tenuous situation in a highly competitive market,” said Reace Smith director of corporate communications at Dean Foods.
In other words, Dean Foods is catching on to what we know: No one wants dairy milk anymore. The plant-based milk market set to hit $16.3 billion in 2018, and not even the “organic” label is helping sell milk due to the rise in plant-based alternatives. There is even a company, Perfect Day, working towards making milk … without cows! The reality is, people are coming to recognize that plant-based alternatives have the same (if not better) nutritional value and comes without the health, environmental, and animal welfare concerns. As Adam Lowry, CEO of Ripple Foods said, “A cow is a really inefficient way to make milk.” And we have to agree.
If dairy farmers are looking for a more sustainable way to stay in business, might we suggest going plant-based? Due to the decline of dairy milk, some California dairy farmers have converted their land to almond groves and a 92-year-old dairy plant that was forced to close due to a decline in sales recently reopened as a plant-based milk company!
Want to learn more about how the plant-based milk space is beating out cow’s milk? Check out this recent episode of #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias featuring Adam Lowry, CEO of Ripple Milk:
To learn more about the environmental impact of our food choices as well as trends and developments in the plant-based food space, check out our podcast #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias.
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