Dairy Product Manufacturers

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 1,160 dairy product manufacturers in the US produce dairy products from raw milk, processed milk, and dairy substitutes. Fluid milk products include milk of varying fat content, milk substitutes, cream, cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt. Other major product categories are cheese and cheese-substitute products; dry, condensed, and evaporated products; creamery butter; and ice cream and frozen dessert products.

Food Safety Compliance

Dairy foods are among the most regulated foods in the US, due to the fact that raw milk can contain any number of dangerous pathogenic organisms.

Falling Milk Consumption

Per capita, fluid milk consumption in the US has been trending downward for more than 70 years and fell at a faster rate during the 2010s than in each of the previous six decades.

Industry size & Structure

The average dairy product manufacturer has about 133 employees, operates a single location and generates $121 million in annual revenue.

    • The industry consists of about 1,160 companies employing 159,400 workers and generating $141 billion in annual revenue.
    • There are about 245 fluid milk processors employing about 54,200 workers.
    • There are about 400 cheese manufacturers with 56,790 employees.
    • The 385 ice cream and frozen dessert manufacturers in the US employ about 22,125 workers.
    • The dairy product manufacturing industry is highly concentrated - the top 20 companies account for 51% of industry revenue.
    • Large US dairy product manufacturers include Nestle USA, Dean Foods, Schreiber Foods, Land O'Lakes, and Kraft Heinz Foods.
                                Industry Forecast
                                Dairy Product Manufacturers Industry Growth
                                Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                Recent Developments

                                Apr 23, 2024 - Employment and Wages Rise
                                • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for dairy product manufacturing, which measures prices before reaching consumers, was unchanged in March compared to a year ago after falling 2.1% in the previous annual comparison, according to the latest US Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Meanwhile, employment by makers of dairy products grew 3.2% in January year over year, and average wages increased 11.2% over the same period to $28.16 per hour, according to BLS wage data.
                                • Bird flu has been detected in 32 dairy cow herds in eight states: Texas, New Mexico, Michigan, Kansas, Idaho, Ohio, North Carolina, and South Dakota, according to the USDA. It’s the first time highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), which is highly fatal to birds, has been identified in cows. In several cases, the virus was detected in unpasteurized samples of milk collected from sick cows, The New York Times reports. Experts said pasteurization should inactivate the flu virus, and officials stressed that the US milk supply was safe. Currently, based on the information available, the USDA said it does not anticipate the outbreak will impact the availability or the price of milk or other dairy products for consumers. Infected cows were thought to be exposed to sick birds, but USDA confirmed in April that cow-to-cow transmission is a factor in the spread of bird flu in dairy herds.
                                • Retail sales of lactose-free milk rose 6.7% in 2023, according to data from consumer behavior research firm Circana cited by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). Moreover, volume sales of lactose-free milk surpassed those of almond-based milk alternatives, which fell by nearly 10% in 2023, per Circana. Last year’s decline in almond milk sales reflected a broader move away from plant-based milk alternatives, which fell 6.6% in 2023 to 337.7 million gallons, marking the second consecutive year of decline for plant-based milk alternatives. 2023 saw the lowest consumption levels for plant-based milk alternatives since 2019. Meanwhile, retail sales of whole milk ticked up by 0.6% in 2023, according to Circana.
                                • Whole milk is back on public school lunch menus following the passage of the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2023 by Congress in December by a vote of 330-99, according to a press release from the office of Rep Kim Schrier (D-WA). Schrier, a pediatrician, introduced the bipartisan legislation, which amends the nutrition standards to allow for flavored and unflavored reduced-fat (2%) and whole milk to be served in public schools. Whole milk had been prohibited in school lunches for over a decade due to the Obama-Era Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which changed nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program and mandated that flavored milk be fat-free and traditional milk be, at most, 1% fat. The Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act is supported by agricultural marketing cooperative Darigold, the National Milk Producers Federation, the International Dairy Foods Association, and the Nutrition Coalition, among others.
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