“Dean Foods is consolidating its operations and will be ending production at its PET Dairy fluid milk processing plant in Richmond,” Dean Foods’ director of corporate communications, Reace Smith, told DairyReporter.
“Production will be phased out over the next few months.”
PET Dairy has been in operation for more than 80 years, starting in Tennessee then extending to Virginia, Washington D.C., North Carolina, South Carolina, parts of West Virginia, Kentucky, Georgia, and Florida. PET Dairy’s product portfolio includes white and flavored milk under the Dairy Pure and TrueMoo brands, buttermilk, eggnog, cream, half n’ half, culture products, and ice cream.
The shutdown of the Virginia plant will eliminate approximately 75 positions, Smith added.
“The decision to eliminate jobs in any part of our business is never an easy one. This move does not reflect the quality of work performed by our employees, but rather reflects the need to remove redundancy in our operations,” Smith said.
Dean Foods said it will continue to maintain “significant” operations in High Point, North Carolina, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and that its products will continue to be available in the region.
Milk sales continue to sour
The shutdown of its PET Dairy plant in Virginia follows other closings by Dean Foods including its Sheboygan, Wisconsin, milk plant in January 2015, a Rochester, Indiana, milk and culture processing facility in July 2015, and Louisiana-based Brown’s Dairy in March 2016.
The closings come amid Dean Foods’ sluggish milk sales as consumers move away from fluid milk consumption. Dean Foods reported volume declines of 2.9% for Q217. This downward trend of milk volume sales will likely accelerate when WalMart, its largest retailer, opens its own milk processing plant.
“We are not satisfied with our performance and are determined to improve our execution,” Dean Foods CEO, Ralph Scozzafava, said during the company’s Q2 17 earnings call. Scozzafava also pledged to cut company costs by up to $50m by the end of 2017.