Dean Foods files for Chapter 11

In another blow to the dairy industry, Dean Foods, the nation’s top milk processor, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and may sell to Dairy Farmers of America, a marketing cooperative. The Dallas-based company sites a 40 percent drop in milk consumption per capita across the U.S. through the years as juices, sodas, and options such as oat or almond milk have increased in popularity.

Dean’s milk brands include Dairy Pure, Meadow Gold, and TruMoo, as well as store brands. Last year, the nation’s largest retailer, Walmart, opened its own milk-processing plant in Indiana, which was a blow to the company, as well.

A report from the Associated Press said consumption of milk per person has tumbled from about 24 gallons per person in 1996 to about 17 gallons by 2018. While sales of oat milk, for example, grew by 636 percent in the past year, milk sales fell 2.4 percent.

Meanwhile, consumption of other dairy products, including butter and cheese, has been increasing in popularity.

Dean Foods employs about 16,000 workers across the U.S. and operates 60 processing facilities, with 8,000 refrigerated delivery trucks distributing its product daily.

The company says it will operate as normal while it shores up its finances.