In a bold move, the largest processor and direct store distributor of fluid milk in the United States has decided to leave its membership in the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), due to differences of opinion with the organization on the labeling of plant-based beverages.
Announcing their decision, Dean Foods issued the following statement:
“Dean Foods has been a strong supporter of the International dairy Foods Association (IDFA) for many years, however, we have reached a point where one of our key priorities is no longer shared by the entire IDFA organization. More specifically, as one of the largest dairy processors in the country, we are proud of the role we play in providing one of the most nutritious products in the grocery store – milk – to consumers around the nation. With this in mind, we believe it is wrong that many plant-based products are currently marketed using milk’s good name, yet are lacking several of the inherent nutrients of their dairy counterparts. Unfortunately, IDFA has been unable to reach consensus and take a stance on this important issue.”
“As a result, we have decided that we can no longer financially support an organization that is not behind one of our core priorities We’ll instead divert our advocacy resources to pursuing accurate product labeling for the benefit of the dairy industry, including farmers, processors, and consumers around the country. We have appreciated IDFA’s support over the years and wish the organization and its member companies the best.”
Eric Beringause, Dean Foods President and CEO, stated the following:
“There are plant-based products called “milk” on grocery store shelves today that don’t include a single drop of dairy. Even worse, consumers are being misled into believing that these imitation products are as healthy as their dairy counterparts. It is time we stood up for the dairy industry, for our nation’s dairy farmers, for the integrity of our milk products, and for the families who rely on them for adequate nutrition.
We’re exploring every potential avenue for ensuring imitation products are labeled properly, and we welcome others to join us in this effort.”
Beringause, who assumed the reins as CEO of Dean Foods on July 29, came with the reputation of having a record of transformation. In an industry crying for a renewal of sales for ‘nature’s most nearly perfect beverage,’ this decision may be a step in restoring real milk’s identity and reducing consumer confusion.
This move should be well-received by thousands of dairy farmers and industry stakeholders who have been demanding proper labeling of dairy products for years, and who have been seeking a ‘big-player’ advocate with an even bigger voice.
Dean Foods, on behalf of the nation’s dairy farm families, we look forward to working with you to advance the cause of proper labeling in keeping with standards of identity.