The largest dairy milk producer in the U.S. has begun Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, citing “a challenging operating environment marked by continuing declines in consumer milk consumption.”

Dean Foods announced the move in a Tuesday morning news release. The company termed the filing as “voluntary Chapter 11 reorganization proceedings” during which it “intends to use this process to protect and support its ongoing business operations and address debt and unfunded pension obligations while it works toward an orderly and efficient sale of the company.”

The company says it is engaged in “advanced discussions with Dairy Farmers of America Inc. regarding a potential sale.”

Eric Beringause, president and CEO of Dean Foods since July, said the filing and sale discussion “are designed to enable us to continue serving our customers and operating as normal as we work toward the sale of our business.” He said the company will continue “to provide customers with an uninterrupted supply of high-quality dairy products” and support “our dairy suppliers and other partners." 

Dean Foods has created a company website to provide updates on the process.

The news comes at a turbulent time in the dairy industry as many producers are looking for the exits themselves after years of tight margins have squeezed them out of business.

For more news, go to