Dean Foods Company, the nation's leading dairy processor, announced today that its chairman, Howard Dean,is retiring and will be succeeded by Chief Executive and Vice Chairman Gregg Engles.

Dean's retirement as chairman and a director is effective immediately. He worked for Dean Foods for 37 years, serving as chairman and CEO from 1988 to 2001. Dean led the company through its 2001 acquisition by Suiza Foods Corp. The combined company took the Dean Foods name. “I am looking forward to an active retirement, and I wish the new Dean Foods Company success as it continues to grow and prosper as a major food and beverage company,” said Dean.

Engles, the new chairman of Dean Foods said “We are very grateful for Howard Dean's leadership and assistance through the closing of the merger of Dean Foods and Suiza Foods and through the critical initial phase of the integration of our two great companies. Howard has led the dairy industry through a period of tremendous change and has played a critical role in changing the milk business for the better.”

Dean Foods Company is one of the nation's leading food and beverage companies. The company operates over 120 plants in 38 states and 3 countries, and employs more than 30,000 people.

Shares of Dean Foods closed at $74.29 in New York Stock Exchange trading on Thursday.

PR Newswire, Reuters