The 94-year-old company has struggled in recent years because Americans drink less cow's milk. 2019 has been particularly brutal: The company's turnover fell 7% during the first half of the year, and profit fell 14%. Dean Foods ( DF ) The stock has lost 80% this year
The company, which makes some of the country's most recognizable dairy and dairy products, including Dairy Pure, Organic Valley and Land O & Lakes has blamed its fight for the "accelerated decline in the conventional white milk category."
The company is salty with debt and has not been able to finance all employees' pensions. Then on Tuesday, Dean Foods Chapter 1
1 requested bankruptcy protection to keep the business running, reorganize its debt and help fund pensions while it appears to be selling the company.
Dean Foods said in a statement that it is working with the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative on a potential deal where the cooperative would buy almost the entire company.
As part of the bankruptcy process, the company secured $ 850 million in funding from its existing lenders, including Rabobank  ( RSWLDD ) to keep the company running.
Once a staple in the US refrigerator, milk has slowly fallen out of favor with consumers as they seek less sugary or plant-based alternatives.
The global milk alternatives market is expected to grow $ 18 billion this year, up 3.5% from 2018, according to Euromonitor. It is still a fraction of the traditional milk market, which will come in at close to $ 120 billion globally this year.
Sales of cow's milk have decreased over the past four years. Sales over the past 52 weeks, which ended Oct. 26, were around $ 12 billion, according to data Nielsen gave to CNN Business. This is a decrease from $ 15 billion over a similar period in 2015. All types of cow's milk, such as 1%, 2%, skimmed and fat-free milk sales have all gone down.
In contrast, and although much smaller, sales of oat milk have jumped 636% to $ 53 million over the past year.
That's not the only problem Dean Foods has encountered. Walmart ( WMT ) who was one of Dean Food's largest customers, dropped them last year after building their own dairy.