- Tuesday, Nov. 12th: Bankruptcy documents filed
- Wednesday, Nov. 13th: Court pleadings and Orders entered for ongoing operations
- Wednesday, Nov. 13th: By close of day, over 125 document filed on court’s docket in less than 48 hours.
- Thursday, Nov. 14th: Word received farmers would receive payment for their previous month’s milk.
- Monday, Nov. 18th: Payments expected to be delivered to farmers
UPDATE – posted 6:35 pm Tues, Nov. 12: “Emergency Relief Has Been Requested. A Hearing will be Conducted on this Matter on November 13, 2019 at 2:30 pm [CST] in Houston Tex.” This information per court documents, TXSB.
Dean Foods, the nation’s largest processor of fluid milk, has filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in the Southern District of Texas. According to a company news release, Dean Foods states the company is working toward an ‘orderly and efficient sale of the Company.”
In the same release, Dean Foods also states it is “engaged in advanced discussions with Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (“DFA) regarding a potential sale of substantially all assets of the Company. If the parties ultimately reach agreement on the terms of a sale, such transaction would be subject to regulatory approval and would be subject to higher or otherwise better offers in the bankruptcy.”
Related to the announcement, Dean Foods cancelled its regular Quarterly Earnings Call, which was scheduled to occur at 9:00 am on the morning of Nov. 12.
Information about the actions and proceedings can be accessed at http://www.deanfoodsrestructuring.com.
The major concern for dairy farm communities – especially the farmers, and related agribusinesses and community small businesses across the country who serve those farmers – will be how independent dairy farms, who ship directly to Dean Foods plants, will be affected, treated, and compensated during the Bankruptcy proceedings. Those detailed answers are not available at the time of this initial posting (11:50 am, EST, Nov. 12).
At this time, there are more unanswered questions than answers, and no doubt there will be many anxious farmers and co-ops around the country who depend on milk checks from Dean Foods. It will take time for accurate answers and solutions to be found as this process works through the reorganizational Bankruptcy process.
For now, here are some FAQ sheets, as posted at http://www.deanfoodsrestructuring.com:
Here is the related News Release as posted at http://www.deanfoodsrestructuring.com:
As the news broke on the morning of November 12, here are some additional links from financial news outlets:
From ‘Seeking Alpha’: Initial (breaking) News Release – Dean Foods Files Chapter 11; posted at 7:09 am – with a link to the news release below:
From ‘Seeking Alpha’: Dean Foods Company Initiates Voluntary Reorganization with New Financial Support from Existing Lenders, a posting with these bullets:
- Company secures commitments for $850 Million in DIP Financing to Support Operations
- In Advanced Discussions with Dairy Farmers of America Regarding a Potential Sale
- Business Continues Regular Operations; Customer Receiving Uninterrupted Supply of Dairy Products as Normal
From ‘Seeking Alpha’: Dean Foods EPS misses by $0.72 – posted at $9.38 am
More information will be posted as it becomes available.
- Link: The concise, complete 20-pg. report can be accessed for reading, or downloading and printing.
- Background: Access the 15 background research reports, and additional information
“What next?” is the obvious question following the release of the AFBF Working Group report.
According to AFBF’s Chief Economist, John Newton, “Farm Bureau members will need to review the information, modify or add ideas, and submit resolutions.” He notes that the report “will not automatically be considered, nor will it automatically go into Farm Bureau policy.“
In other words, and in keeping with Farm Bureau procedure, members must take action.
Look for additional information offered in future posts.
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.
Eric Beringause is the new CEO and President of Dean Foods, the nation’s largest processor and distributor of fresh fluid milk and dairy case products. He replaces Ralph Scozzafava, who has stepped down. Beringause’s tenure began on July 29, 2019.
Mr. Beringause brings over 30 years of experience in the dairy, consumer products, and food processing industries to his new position. Most recently, he was the CEO of Gehl Foods, the nation’s largest processor of nacho cheese. Through his career, he has worked for a variety of companies such as Nestle, ConAgra, Alcoa, and Pillsbury. His work portfolio includes private-label and branded products.
As the nation’s largest processor of fluid milk, the performance of Dean Foods in turns affects the fortunes of tens of thousands of dairy farms and regional farm economies across the United States.
It is no secret that the dairy industry itself, as well as Dean Foods, has seen its fair share of difficulties in the past two years; Mr. Beringause faces daunting challenges in turning the company around. Jim Turner, non-executive chairman of the Dean Foods Board, expresses confidence Beringause is the person for the job in a news release: “He has a long track record of creating value in dairy and consumer products companies, as well as a unique combination of turnaround and operational expertise.”
Upon the news of the CEO change late on Friday afternoon, July 26, Dean Foods stock rose in off-market trading over the weekend, rolled a bit during the day on Monday, July 29, and at the close of business, closed up 2 cents/share from Friday afternoon’s closing value of $1.25. On Tuesday, July 30th, the stock had climbed again to $1.36 at closing.
Following is the original news release, along with some additional public information about Mr. Beringause:
The original news release from PR Newswire:
DALLAS, July 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Dean Foods Company (DF) today announced that Eric Beringause has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Dean Foods Board of Directors, effective July 29, 2019. Beringause succeeds Ralph Scozzafava, who has stepped down as CEO and resigned from his position on the Board.
Beringause brings to Dean Foods more than 30 years of transformational leadership and operational experience at a broad range of blue-chip brands in the food, beverage and consumer products industries, including expertise in food processing and branded and contract manufacturing. Most recently, he served as CEO of Gehl Foods, LLC, a market-leading producer of dairy-based beverages and food products. Prior to that, he served as CEO of Advanced Refreshment LLC, one of the largest U.S. producers of private-label bottled water and water-based beverages, and as CEO of Sturm Foods, Inc., a leader in private-label food products, specialty food brands and contract manufacturing. Earlier in his career, Beringause held various business development, finance, and sales and marketing roles at Alcoa Consumer Products, Gerber Infant & Baby Products, ConAgra, Inc./Grist Mill, Nestle, Inc., Nabisco Brands and The Pillsbury Company.
“We believe Eric is the right leader to drive the transformation of the business as the Company continues to execute on its enterprise-wide cost productivity plan and its previously announced exploration of strategic alternatives,” said Jim Turner, Non-Executive Chairman of the Dean Foods Board. “He has a long track record of creating value in dairy and consumer products companies, as well as a unique combination of turnaround and operational expertise.”
“I am honored to join Dean Foods at this important juncture,” said Beringause. “Dean Foods is the nation’s largest dairy processor and a leader in the industry, and I am excited to work with the Board and management team to leverage our scale and substantial assets to realize the significant opportunities available to transform our company. My top priority will be to ensure we have the right footprint and strategies in place to drive sustainable growth and profitability for the benefit of our shareholders, employees, customers and other stakeholders.”
Turner continued, “On behalf of the entire Board, I want to thank Ralph for his service and contributions to Dean Foods over the past five years. We appreciate his dedication to the Company and we wish him all the best in the future.”
Upcoming Webcast of Second Quarter 2019 Earnings Conference Call
The Company will host a live webcast of its second quarter 2019 earnings conference call on Tuesday, August 6 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The webcast is expected to last approximately one hour and will be accessible by visiting http://www.deanfoods.com/our-company/investor-relations/ and by clicking “Webcasts.”
The webcast will be accessible on most operating systems and browsers. A webcast replay will be available for approximately 45 days following the event within the Investor Relations section of the Company’s website.
About Dean Foods:
Dean Foods is a leading food and beverage company and the largest processor and direct-to-store distributor of fresh fluid milk and other dairy and dairy case products in the United States. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, the Dean Foods portfolio includes DairyPure®, the country’s first and largest fresh, national white milk brand, and TruMoo®, the leading national flavored milk brand, along with well-known regional dairy brands such as Alta Dena®, Berkeley Farms®, Country Fresh®, Dean’s®, Friendly’s®, Garelick Farms®, LAND O LAKES®* milk and cultured products, Lehigh Valley Dairy Farms®, Mayfield®, McArthur®, Meadow Gold®, Oak Farms®, PET®**, T.G. Lee®, Tuscan® and more. Dean Foods also has a joint venture with Organic Valley®, distributing fresh organic products to local retailers. In all, Dean Foods has more than 50 national, regional and local dairy brands as well as private labels. Dean Foods also makes and distributes ice cream, cultured products, juices, teas, and bottled water. Approximately 15,000 employees across the country work every day to make Dean Foods the most admired and trusted provider of wholesome, great-tasting dairy products at every occasion. For more information about Dean Foods and its brands, visit www.deanfoods.com.
*The LAND O LAKES brand is owned by Land O’Lakes, Inc. and is used by license.
**PET is a trademark of Eagle Family Foods Group LLC, under license.
CONTACT: Investor Relations/External Communications, Suzanne Rosenberg, +1 214-303-3438. Media please contact +1 214-721-7766 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional Background Information about Mr. Beringause:
Vassar: Mr. Beringause serves on the Board of Trustees of Vassar College, from whom he received his undergraduate degree. A biography can be read on Vassar’s website, or is posted here:
Giving Back: Related to experiences and friendships which began with a summer job while at Vassar, Mr. Beringause has been a huge supporter of an effort which builds up the Navajo nation, assists the Student Conservation Association, and involves telecommunications – all at the same time. And he believes that teaching the ‘why’ is important. Learn more in “That Vassar Serendipity – Three Alums Find a Common Cause,” a part of the Vassar “Stories” series.
Management Board of CP Kelco / a Division of Huber: Mr. Beringause is a member of the Management Board of CP Kelco, a consumer products division of Huber, which processes .nature-based’ ingredients for the food industry.
From FoodDive – a perspective on the circumstances which led to this change:
Dean Foods Replaces CEO with Eric Beringause amid Continued Struggles; by Lilliana Byington for Food Dive. Insights from this article’s author describe the company’s struggles, the challenges ahead, and Beringause’s record.
In recent years, opinions about Dean Foods and its future have been offered by every level of the dairy supply chain from dairy farmers to financial outlets to board rooms across the nation. A change has occurred. The entire dairy economy will benefit from a healthy and vibrant Dean Foods. We are hoping that Mr. Beringause is indeed, the leader with the skills to build a positive future – many dairy communities will be counting on it.
Source: News Release from KDDC, written by Eunice Schlappi
H H Barlow III, a life-long dairy farmer from Barren County, has been selected to lead the Kentucky Dairy Development Council (KDDC) as the new Executive Director as of May 1. He follows Maury Cox, who retired at the end of February after holding the position for the past 10 years.
H and his wife, Kathy own and operate Barlu Dairy in Cave City and are currently milk 120 Jerseys. They have four adult children – Gini Lin, Brad, JP and Josh. They also have 14 grandchildren. They are members of the Immanuel Baptist Church in Glasgow.
Mr. Barlow graduated from the University of Kentucky and has worked for 34 years in feeds sales in addition to his dairy farm. He is a past board member for the KY Agricultural Development Board; he served on the KY Agricultural Council; he was chosen to serve on the U.S. Board for International Food & Agricultural Development; he was the chair of the founding committee for the KDDC and served on the KDDC board six years; he served on the Lone Star Milk Cooperative board of directors for 11 years; and he served on the ADA of KY/SUDIA board for 11 years.
When asked why he wanted to become the KDDC Executive Director, H stated that he is very passionate about the dairy industry, always has been. He plans to work with the four KDDC dairy consultants to help improve the profitability and sustainability of Kentucky’s dairy farm families. He fully understands the challenges that dairy farmers are facing but is very hopeful for future improved conditions within the industry. He plans to working closely with Kentucky’s dairy farmers, Governor’s Office of Ag Policy, KY Dept of Agriculture and all allied industry relating to dairy. He feels that teamwork and networking will be a key part of the job as he moves forward in this new position and is looking forward to working with all of Kentucky’s dairy industry.
Congratulations H H Barlow, III!
UPDATE: Comment Period Extended Until October 11!
August 27th is Deadline for Comments to FDA on Milk Standards of Identity
Background Information for the purpose of preparing public comments to the FDA concerning Standards of Identity for Milk
On March 29, 2018, FDA introduced the “FDA Nutrition Innovation Strategy,” a comprehensive effort to review labeling of foods and an impact on human health, particularly in relation to preventable and chronic diseases.
“An almond doesn’t lactate, I will confess.” And with those words, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, in a July 17 report by Politico, amped up the debate about the relabeling of plant beverages which label themselves as ‘milk,’ which many believe are misleading and deceptive.
Although firm enforcement of FDA standards of identity should have been implemented several decades ago when “Plant Beverages” or “Nut Milks” first began to creep onto ‘dairy’ shelves, they were not. No one knows the reasons why, but here we are, now with a debate and labeling examination which will cost taxpayers – and companies – millions of dollars. Here’s some background:
First, it’s helpful to actually read and know about the standards as they exist:
Standards of Identity for ‘Real Milk” were established in 1938 in the Federal, Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
- From the FDA Codes of Federal Regulation (CFR): Title 21
- From the FDA CFR: Section 131, Definitions (Cream, Pasteurized, Ultra-Pasteurized)
- From the FDA CFA: Title 21, Section 131:110, Subpart B (Standards – [Standardization of Milk and Cream]) ** [Web location of above graphic]
- Wikipedia has this information
- Another set of information can be found at an Archives locator.
Part of the controversy results from the “real” vs. “processed” (aka ‘fake/faux ) nutritional properties of real milk. The Wisconsin Agriculturist, in a July 23rd, 2018 article written by Fran O’Leary, describes it this way:
“Real milk provides eight times more naturally occurring protein in every glass, is wholesome and simple, and is a minimally processed beverage. Real milk also has no added sugar. The sugar in real milk is lactose, which is a naturally occurring sugar. Many types of nondairy milk, such as almond milk, contain sugar. Tell that to your friends and family members who believe otherwise.”
The Wisconsin Agriculturist concludes that article by quoting an emphatic statement from the American Dairy Coalition, which reminds real dairy advocates:
“It is crucial the dairy industry speaks up on the issue,” the American Dairy Coalition said in a statement. “We can no longer stand by” and allow plant-based beverages to be labeled as milk.
On July 26, 2018, the FDA released an official statement concerning its reasoning and approach to re-working milk / dairy labeling standards.
This statement occurred in conjunction with a July 26, 2018 Public Meeting to Discuss FDA’s Nutrition Innovation Strategy. Several industry stakeholders went on the record with comments at that meeting, and those comments can be accessed via links here.
Public comments on the FDA Nutrition Innovation Strategy will be taken until August 27, 2018. (Update / 3rd week of August: comments now taken until Oct. 11.) Comments can be posted at this docket folder. (Electronic – OR – written/mail delivery submission is acceptable!). It is particularly important for dairy FARMERS – those whose livelihood depends most directly on the sales of milk from their farms – to comment either individually, and via any producer organizations of which they are members!!
A Kathleen Doheny Article from WebMd:
“[Gottleib] . . . said the agency has ”probably not” been enforcing the standard of identity — and as a result, this nonenforcement has become the standard.”
– Agency will be ‘modernizing’ the standards of identity
– Comments expected be taken for a year
– Intentions to enforce standard of identity
The article also notes that plant / nut beverage sales increased 61% from 2012-2017, while Real Milk sales decreased 15%.
This proliferation of plant-based beverages has led to sales of those products which are expected to reach over $16 Billion (in US Dollars, but referring to the total world market value) by the end of 2018. That competition is in two forms: 1) dollars which have been removed from dairy communities & economies across the United States, and 2) Hundreds of Millions of gallons of real milk from real cows which no longer has a home, and has led to a long cycle of depressed prices which is steadily killing rural economies.
Much of that market displacement – and resultant stress on rural economies – is believed to be because plant “milk” is a term which cannibalizes and preys on the goodness of natural milk, and the proven knowledge milk is natural protein source, readily absorbed by the human body.
Spirited Plant-Based Advocacy Organizations and Individuals will challenge Real Dairy / Real Cow-Goat-Sheep-Mammal Advocates:
It should go without saying, but never doubt that those organizations and businesses who continue to build their financial empires while opposing the enforcement of standards of identity of “Real Milk” will be relentless and tireless in their fight to bend the narrative in their favor.
A collaborative editorial in a Boulder, Colorado, web-based publication, advocates for the blurred lines and gray areas which are the basis for the advocacy of truth-in-labeling for those who believe traditional standards of identity exist for a reason. Their citations to many will be questionable, and in some cases, outdated in their accuracy, particularly in the Greenhouse Gas Emission discussion. At least one commenter suggests alternative beverages be called ‘milk substitutes.’
Food Navigator, in an article written by Elaine Watson, relays views of a firm which recently raised $24 Million to commercialize ‘animal-free proteins.” According to the article, the company ‘takes food grade yeast, and adds DNA sequences . . . which instruct the yeast to produce the proteins found in milk.”
[Note: Admittedly, this technology is morbidly fascinating, but also gives real meaning to the terms “Sci-Fi Food” and “Frankenfood.” We really, really need to ask ourselves: just because we can – should we?”]
Dairy Farming: continued decline, will it stabilize, or more consolidation?
It is no secret that the dairy farming industry is in a sea change of transition from smaller (400-head or smaller) herds to large herds of 1000 cows or more. And with that change, rural ag economies, the agribusinesses and services which serve those dairy farms are at risk themselves.
From New York, to Virginia, to Georgia, to Wisconsin, and to other regions, reports of dairy farms exiting from the industry are almost of epidemic proportions. If these were job losses from a ‘factory in a big building’ closing, the public outcry would be deafening. However, because dairy is so scattered across the landscape and not contained in a single building like an industrial building, the loss of these economies is often a silent erosion that gets little public notice.
One example of some of the abuse that has occurred:
From The Cheese Reporter: Sunflower Butter! A bid request from the USDA itself
But let’s give credit to #TraderJoes, who actually has an acceptable label on their plant beverages! Kudos to them, and I’ll be back in their stores because they get it right! This is an example to others that it can be done!
Additional Links to Consider (and look for others to be added before Aug. 27th!):
From Feedstuffs: Gottleib: “FDA . . . is invariably likely to get sued”
For now, please begin to do your homework, and draft your comments. It could be as simple as “Real Milk comes from Cows, Goats, Sheep and other mammals. Make this simple, and have “MILK” be labeled that way!”
From the American Dairy Coalition – Background & bullet points:
- The Integrity Initiative (Background on milk integrity)
- A fact sheet with various points to consider when writing comments has been posted.
You can save time, and comment via electronic means directly to FDA via the portal. As you do this, please remember your comments may be able to be viewed by the public.
And here’s a link to the portal to comment by October 11 deadline – Comment here.
- As of 5:00 pm on Monday, August 20, 496 comments were received.
- As of 11:59 pm on Sunday, August 26, 2,303 comments had been posted.
Please make sure that by late evening, on Monday, August 27, and now on October 11, your voice will be among them too.
#MilkTruthMatters #IdentityMatters #RulesMatter