Dean Foods is the nation's largest milk bottler. The company's Fresh Dairy Direct business markets fluid milk, ice cream, cultured dairy products, and beverages (juices, teas, and bottled water) under more than 50 local, regional, and private-label brands, including Borden, Pet, Country Fresh, Meadow Gold, and TruMoo, a leading national flavored milk brand. Following the spinoff of most of its WhiteWave Foods business, Dean Foods still holds about 20% of WhiteWave, which makes coffee creamers (International Delight), dips, ice cream, butter, cottage cheese, and specialty dairy products. Dean Foods owns and operates a number of smaller dairy companies, including Berkeley Farms, and Garelick Farms.
Following the sale of its Morningstar Foods division and the spinoff of WhiteWave in 2013, Dean Foods was left with Fresh Dairy Direct. The company manufactures, markets and distributes a wide variety of branded and private label dairy case products, including milk, ice cream, cultured dairy products, creamers, ice cream mix and other dairy products to retailers, distributors, foodservice outlets, educational institutions, and governmental entities across the US.
Dean Foods rings up 99% of its sales in the US, where it operates 67 manufacturing facilities in 32 states (and distributes across all 50 states). Outside of the US, the dairy giant has operations in Europe.
Sales and Marketing
Dean Foods markets its products through advertising and other promotions, including media, coupons, trade shows, and other promotional activities. The company spent about $44.8 million on advertising in 2015, $27.5 million in 2014, and $22 million in 2013. Dean's customers include food retailers, distributors, foodservice operators, educational institutions, and governmental entities throughout the US. Wal-Mart and its subsidiaries, including Sam's Club, is Dean Foods' largest customer.
The company’s products are sold primarily on a local or regional basis through local and regional sales forces, although some national customer relationships are coordinated by a centralized corporate sales department.
The company has seen a decreasing trend in net revenues over the last five years.
In 2015 Dean Foods' net revenues of $8.12 billion decreased by 15% compared to 2014. This decline was due to lower pricing as a result of a significant drop in dairy commodity costs, which were about 30% below prior-year levels.
In 2015 net loss was $8.51 million, an improvement of 58% compared to 2014, due to an increase in net sales.
Cash from operating activities was $408.1 million, up 167% on 2014.
After diversifying into higher-margin businesses (and piling on debt in the process), Dean Foods has reversed course to get on a sounder financial footing and has become essentially a pure-play in low-margin fluid milk and traditional dairy products. Its current strategy is to build on its unique capabilities and cost reduction opportunities to create a leading positions as a low-cost fluid milk producer.
In 2016 Dean Foods continued to focus on efforts to drive operational excellence, improve its go-to-market strategies, strengthen the company's private label business, and build and buy strong brands.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2016 the company bolstered its ice cream product line up after it acquired Friendly's Ice Cream's retail and manufacturing ice cream business for $155 million in cash. Prior to the acquisition, Friendly's made and distributed a variety of ice cream products; it also operates a restaurant chain in the northeastern US that was not part of the acquisition. The Friendly's brand complements Dean's line-up of ice cream brands, including Mayfield and Dean's Country Fresh.