Borden to Close Milk Plants in Dothan, AL and Hattiesburg, MS

Brings total to 6 Borden plants closed in 5 months

On Wednesday, August 3rd, Borden Dairy, Inc announced that its Dothan, AL and Hattiesburg, MS milk processing plants would cease operations by September 30, 2022.  

This makes a total of 6 processing facilities shuttered by Borden since May of 2022, when Borden closed its Charleston, SC, and Miami, FL plants.

Borden closed a milk processing facility in Chemung, Illinois  (owned jointly by New Dairy Opco, LLC and Select Milk Producers, Inc., as a joint venture called NDSM Holdings), and a milk plant in DePere, WI in early July, 2022. Sour cream production reportedly continues in DePere.

As further background, New Dairy Opco, LLC, is the entity formed between KKR and Capitol Peak Partners, two private equity firms, to purchase Borden out of the company’s 2020 bankruptcy process.

While there is no specific information yet available, according to industry sources, somewhere between 25-30 dairy farm producers in Georgia will be affected, several in Tennessee, and an unknown number of farms in Alabama and Mississippi.  

Borden products have a distribution area which covers a wide swath of the lower southeast, including the Gulf’s coastal tourist areas. The Dutch Chocolate is a favorite of milk connoisseurs, and their recent introductions of flavored milks have received great reviews.

It will take some time to sort out all of the farm related ripple effects – beginning with independent producers as well as co-op members shipping to those plants, and extended to the milk haulers delivering to those plants.  Eventually, in this regional ag economy, agribusiness and suppliers will be affected as well. To what degree is unknown, until producers find new cost-feasible markets for their milk. Transportation costs in particular will be a factor in market change decisions for producers.

Beginning with the Charleston closure, and continuing through the Illinois and Wisconsin closures, there has been quite an effect on school milk contracts which had to be reorganized.

What will be the fate of Elsie, Borden’s iconic cow? That’s really hard to know at the moment, but six plants closed in 5 months time is a huge point of concern.  

The southeast is quickly becoming a ‘milk desert,’  which is defined as a region of significant population with limited access to nearby farms which produce nutrient dense foods, and in this case, that’s milk. 

With all of the supply chain disruptions and milk transport issues we’ve seen over the past three years, how are southeast consumers going to be served in the future with the goodness of milk’s essential nutrients?  This is a big picture question which needs to be considered in the name of food security for an area with 25% of the nation’s population.

Borden plant closures are increasing the evolution of ‘milk deserts’ in the Southeast

Mayfield: CEO Quality Award – Dean Food’s Top Honor built on TN-Southeast Farm-to-Table Dairy Heritage, Community Pride

1033_Mayfield_CEO_Award_Courtyard_AgriVoice_Local_F

(Athens, TN) –  Mayfield Dairy in Athens, TN is the recipient of the Dean Foods CEO Quality Award for ice cream for 2016.  This award is the company’s top honor, and Mayfield Dairy Farms was selected over Dean Foods’ nine-other ice cream plants after a rigorous, year-long judging process.

“We are delighted with Mayfield’s excellence in protecting quality from farm to table, and we’re proud to hold them up as an example,” stated Mr. Ralph Scozzafavo, CEO of Dean Foods.  “Dean Foods holds its plants to very high standards, making for particularly stiff competition surrounding this award,” he said.

Mayfield plants in the Southeast have a history of receiving Quality awards.  The Athens plant has previously received Excellence in Quality recognition in 2016, 2015, and 2014.  The Mayfield / Barber’s plant in Birmingham AL received the CEO’s Quality Award two years in a row for 2015 and 2014

If you’ve grown up in the south, especially if you’ve been involved with dairy farming in the Southeast, “Mayfield Dairy” is a name that immediately combines the elements of high quality, in-demand milk and ice cream, and how the demand generated by such a local dairy plant impacts farms and the agriculture economy in an area.  As Mayfield has grown in sales through the decades, so has the southeast dairy farm community achieved continually higher standards of quality in on-farm practices of animal care and welfare, along with sanitation and technology of equipment in milking barns.

 

The CEO Quality Award was presented to Mayfield Dairy management and employees in Athens on April 21, 2017 by Dean Foods CEO Ralph Scozzafava.

0000_90_908_Scozzafava_Dean_Scottie_CEO_F

The Dean Foods CEO Quality Award is the culmination of an intensive assessment process. This year, five fluid milk plants and three ice cream plants, including Mayfield Dairy, were selected as Excellence in Quality Award winners based on multiple criteria such as Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program scores, training participation, and consumer complaint improvement.

Next, these eight plants were scrutinized further by Dean Foods’ senior leadership who took into account quality innovations, best practices, and the “quality culture” within the plant.  Mayfield Dairy emerged as the cream of the crop in the ice cream category.

00000_96_Group_CEO_Mayfield_Scozzafava_F_

“I could not be more thankful for the team here in Athens,” said Scott Watson, Plant Manager.  “The products we manufacture reach the tables of families throughout the southeast and our folks do an incredible job of assuring that our ice cream is consistent day in and day out for our customers.  In short, we get to make and distribute ice cream for a living, and it it doesn’t get much more fun than that!”

00_103_Angie_Melhorn_Ice_Cream_Truck_S

How does Mayfield stand in context with other dairy processing plants?

  1. Mayfield / Athens is one of 67 plants in the Dean Foods system, according to a 2015 article in Dairy Foods Magazine.  With revenues of over $8 Billion, Dean Foods collectively is the 2nd largest dairy food processor on the Dairy Foods Top 100 list, published this August by Dairy Foods magazine.  Summarized information about the companies on the Top 100 list, topped by Nestle, with revenues over $12 Billion, describes in more detail each of the top 100 companies.
  2. While Dean Foods has a branding footprint from coast-to-coast with DairyPure and TruMoo in some of their product lines (co-branded with time-honored regional brands), they are one of the largest supporters of LOCAL DAIRY COMMUNITIES, since each plant generally sources milk from dairy farms (many family-sized farm operations) within a close radius.
  3. In 2015, Dairy Foods Magazine published an article which related a broad-ranging description of the Athens plant complex, including some private label products,  its fluid and ice cream operations, and the quality priorities of the entire processing center.
  4. #47-225 and #47-131 – PLANT numbers are the key to knowing if your milk or ice cream brand may be processed and packaged at this award-winning plant in Athens!  To know if the milk or ice-cream you’re consuming is one of the brands or private labels processed at this award winning plant, check the Plant Code (mandated by law/regulation) found on each and every carton of dairy product processed here! The fluid plant number is #47-131, and the ice cream plant number is #47-225. The quality found at Mayfield Athens is the foundation of goodness for them all, and an indication you are supporting LOCAL farms in your area!
  5. Other southeast Dean Foods plants to watch for?   The code #01-0176 signals that an ice-cream product has been made at the Barber’s ice cream plant in Birmingham, AL, a previous winner of the CEO Quality Award.  #01-0104 signals that a fluid milk product is processed at the Dean – Barber’s plant,  also in Birmingham.  #13-230 is the code number meaning dairy products are from the Dean – Mayfield plant at Braselton, GA.   #45-01 is the Dean – Pet plant at Spartanburg, SC.   From Nashville, the Purity Dairies plant, known for award-winning chocolate milk, is #47-118, and the Country Delite plant, which processes a lot of private-label milks for independent grocery chains, carries the code #47-120.
  6. The local newspaper, the Daily-Post Athenian, just about a 1/2 mile away from the Athens plant, published a front-page report with photos of plant key personnel.

 

Mary Williams is the manager of the Mayfield Division of Dean Foods, which include the Mayfield Athens plant, a plant a Braselton, GA, and an ice-cream plant in Birmingham, AL, also known as Barber’s.  She also acknowledged the daily commitment and dedication of the Mayfield employees and associates which led to this quality award.

00000_909_Mary_Williams_CEO_Award_AM_AgriVoice

The brand MAYFIELD is much more than ‘a carton to pick-up’  to the ‘home folks’ in southeast Tennessee, and a wider southeast radius about 200 miles from the site of the original Athens plant.  MAYFIELD is the key to consumer shelf space at grocery stores, and therefore a LOCAL connector between dairy farm families and marketplace.  Those MAYFIELD cartons mean that area farms are able to pay bills, support their families and local churches, pay property taxes which support local governments, and are a driver for the southeast Ag Economy.

Mayfield employees and area dairy farmers are neighbors, sometimes cousins, sometimes husband and wife, and often go to the same churches.  To say this is a LOCAL DAIRY Community is an understatement; the bonds of history are deep, and wide, and strong.  All take mutual pride in the success of each other in various family, community, and business, and personal achievements.

The Agriculture community adds their “Congratulations” to the many already received by Mayfield.  Farmers also say “THANK YOU” to Dean Foods for supporting our neighborhoods and dairy futures.  Many farm young folks have committed to a future in the dairy industry by investments in milking barns and housing facilities for maximum animal welfare.  The continued support of Dean Foods will bolster those futures as young farmers aspire to help feed the world well into the future.

Here’s to more Mayfield awards in the future!

1033_Mayfield_CEO_Award_Courtyard_Scozzafava_Quote_F