While many in the U.S. dairy sector focus on why the nation’s largest milk bottler, Dean Foods, filed for bankruptcy Nov. 12, the smart money—if there is any smart money left after four years of crushingly low milk prices—is focused on what’s next.
What’s next is what’s always next when your business is built on shrinking markets, declining margins, and a relentless rise in production: more tough times.
Dean Foods’ crack-up, though, is so big and its market presence is so broad that what happens next to it will impact dairy farmers, processors, bankers, and coop members alike from Boston to Minneapolis. Maybe worse is that this sour mess was predictable, if not avoidable.
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