Dairy company Dean Foods issued a notice last week that it would discontinue its contracts with a number of dairy suppliers after May 31. While affected milk producers speculate that Walmart’s new milk processing facilities are to blame for losing their contracts, Dean Foods explained that the issue is related to an overproduction of dairy despite a consumer shift away from animal-based milk. Reece Smith, director of corporate communications for Dean Foods, explained that “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.” Amid the growth of the plant-based milk industry, dairy farmers in the United States have consistently purged millions of gallons of excess milk, hitting an all-time high of 78 million gallons last year. Some dairy producers have restructured their businesses to take advantage of the growing plant-based industry, including Elmhurst—which operated as a dairy-processing facility in New York for 90 years until it transformed into a vegan milk brand in 2017.
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