Largest Milk Producer in the US Declares Bankruptcy as Oat Milk Booms

|Updated Nov 18, 2019
@oatly is loved by Millennials

Today, the largest dairy producer in the US just declared bankruptcy, after declining sales of dairy, and if major meat and dairy companies don't see this as a shot across the bow, then they are not paying attention. Oat milk, meanwhile, is making the biggest strides in the alternative milk category, outpacing almond, soy, pea and all the other options out there.

The trend away from drinking cow's milk among millennials is clearly on the rise, as sales of alternative milk continue to climb. More than one millennial has told me in recent days, "Milk is gross!" in explaining their move away from dairy toward nut or milk alternatives. And Oatly is taking advantage of the sentiment, with clever marketing directed squarely at the young converts who have decided oat milk is their drink. Oatly is clearly winning fans in their quest for world domination, and the company has plans to introduce quinoa milk next.

The dairy industry declined by $1.1 billion dollars in the year leading up to 2018, and alternatives like oat milk, almond milk, pea milk, rice milk, hemp milk, flax milk, coconut milk, and soy milk all continue to gain market share in comparison to cows' milk. Sales of these non-dairy milk alternatives gained 9 percent, for a total of $1.6 billion in the same time period.

Dean Foods, the largest producer of cow's milk in the US with familiar brands like Dairy Pure, Organic Valley and Land O'Lakes milk, has blamed its struggles on the "accelerated decline in the conventional white milk category." The 94-year-old company has been declining in sales, and they never diversified into non-meat and non-dairy alternatives, as some meat producers have, such as Conagra, which bought vegan meat brand Gardein this past summer and Kraft Heinz, which bought a vegan cheese company earlier this year.

While companies like Burger King and McDonald's, KFC and Taco Bell have decided to offer non-meat alternatives to a growing consumer base that wants these healthier, more sustainable and ethical non-meat options in order to stay current, Dean Foods did not evolve and now finds itself insolvent. This year has been particularly tough on the company's stock as sales dropped by 7% in the first half, and profit dropped14%. Dean Foods (DF) stock lost 80% since January.

Here's more on the story.

Have you found your favorite plant-milk variety? We tested them all—spy our results.