Agreeing to terms set by the US Department of Justice, Dairy Farmers of America has finalized its long-awaited acquisition of bankrupt Dean Foods.
The $433 million purchase, first awarded to DFA in an auction in late March, comes on the heals of the DOJ’s completed review of the transaction. In a release on Friday, the DOJ it required DFA to divest three Dean Foods fluid milk plants — located in Harvard, IL; De Pere, WI; and Franklin, MA.
“During its investigation, the department also expressed concerns to DFA and Dean about the potential loss of competition if DFA were to acquire a number of Dean’s fluid milk processing plants in the Upper Midwest, and DFA subsequently ceased its efforts to acquire those plants,” the DOJ’s release stated.
The DOJ added that it has closed its investigation into Prairie Farms’ acquisition of Dean’s fluid milk processing plants in the South and Midwest that were awarded in the March auction. The DOJ said it included that those plants likely would be shut down if not purchased by Prairie Farms due to Dean’s financial position and the lack of alternate operators who could buy those plants in a timely fashion.
“This is a tumultuous time for the dairy industry, with the two largest fluid milk processors, Dean and Borden Dairy Company, in bankruptcy, and a pandemic causing demand for milk by schools and restaurants to collapse. In the face of these challenges and Dean’s worsening financial condition, the department conducted a fast but comprehensive investigation, and our actions today preserve competition for fluid milk processing in northeastern Illinois, Wisconsin, and in New England,” said Makan Delrahim, DOJ assistant attorney general Makan Delrahim of the antitrust division. “In addition, the closing of the department’s investigation into Prairie Farms’ acquisition will preserve necessary outlets for dairy farmers and keep milk on consumers’ refrigerator shelves by keeping the plants in operation.”
The DOJ added that Friday’s settlement with DFA and Dean will ensure the continued operation of dozens of fluid milk plants and help the supply chain of dairy products to supermarkets, schools, convenience stores, hospitals and other consumers that otherwise may have been harmed by the loss of Dean’s processing plants.
Kansas City, KA-based DFA, which had 2018 total sales of $13.6 billion, is the largest US dairy cooperative. It has nearly 14,000 farmer-members nationwide.
The Kansas City Business Journal noted a release of DFA stating that the purchase will secure milk markets for its farmer members and save nearly 11,000 jobs.