Three More Dairy Processors Cease Operations Nationally

After 85 years of operation Sunshine Dairy is closing one of its iconic milk processing plants in Portland, Ore. The loss of Sunshine and two other plants results in more than 260 years’ worth of milk processing history being lost. ( Sunshine Dairy )

Three dairy plants located in different states announced plans to stop processing milk in the past few weeks. Milk processors in Erie, Penn.; Lynn, Mass. and Portland, Ore. all announced in mid-May that operations at their plants would cease.

Meadow Brook Dairy of Erie, Penn. informed employees on May 22 that after 86 years of business the plant would be closing. Meadow Brook was started by the McGarvey family in 1932 and later sold to Dean Foods in 1991.

The plant produced approximately 500,000 gallons of milk each week and shipped to consumers in Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. The closing will cut 75 jobs, but 50 employees will remain in distribution.

Pot ’O Gold Dairy is the only other milk processor remaining in northwest Pennsylvania and could see an uptick in business, but Becky Messinger, co-owner of Pot ’O Gold Dairy, says it isn’t all good news losing a competitor.

“I just feel for the local dairy farmers,” Messinger says. “This is just devastating news for many of them.”

Another Dean Foods owned plant in Lynn, Mass. also notified employees on May 22 that it planned to halt operations. Garelick Farms located less than 10 miles north of Boston employed approximately 300 people and had been in business nearly 90 years.

“This came out of the blue,” says James Cowdell, executive director of the Economic Development Industrial Corp., a development bank in Lynn. “We had no notice and we were told today this is not a Lynn problem, rather it’s the result as a nationwide decrease in milk consumption.” 

The closing of the two processing facilities follows the news earlier in the winter when more than 100 dairy farms received notice from Dean Foods that they would no longer be able to sell milk to the company. Producers in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and Ohio were all impacted by the announcement by Dean Foods. 

Another milk processor in Portland, Ore. also announced plans to shut down a plant after filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 9. Sunshine Dairy will close its plant in the northwest part of Portland after 85 years of operation. The location was a local staple due to a large, spinning milk carton located on the roof.

The site was acquired by Portland competitor, Alpenrose Dairy, who takes over the sales and distribution associated with the facility. However, the production from the plant will be shifted to another Alpenrose plant while the building is likely to be sold again and rezoned.

“Given the vast changes currently going on with the consolidation of dairies across the country and the reduction of family owned dairies, we feel this restructuring will enable us to provide for the future benefit of the employees, customers and suppliers. And will allow us to provide even greater products and services in the community,” says Michael Anderson, president and CEO of Sunshine Dairy.

Sunshine has a second plant location in Portland and plans to continue doing business at that facility.

Here are some more headlines related to recent plant closings and restructuring in dairy processing:

 
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