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Dairy Distress: Farmers Talk Changing Tastes

KINGSTON TOWNSHIP,  Pa. --  As the changing milk market causes dairy farmers to struggle, a major milk giant announced Tuesday that it's broke, declaring bankruptcy.

The shelves are stocked, and customers are loading up on milk by the gallons at The Lands at Hillside Farms near Shavertown. Walking into the dairy store, it's hard to imagine that the milk market is struggling.

Dean Foods, the nation's largest milk producer, known for popular brands such as Dairy Pure and Tru Moo, filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday.

"In general, dairy, outside of fluid milk, is rising, at least across the globe. So, 'I don't want your milk, but I'll eat cheese, and I'll have ice cream,' type of thing," said Chet Mozloom, the executive director for The Lands at Hillside Farms.

Mozloom admits that even his own daughter chooses almond milk over cow's milk, an example of the country's changing tastes.

Dean Foods blames the decline in demand for white milk for its money troubles.

Mozloom thinks it's just a trend. He said, "I just see these things come in and come out and keto and, 'this is going to kill you, but you'll survive from this,' and next thing you know, everybody had skim milk, now whole milk's better for you."

Brian Manning, herd manager at Manning Farm Dairy near Dalton, agrees.

"There's always going to be a demand for dairy," Manning said.

Both Manning and Mozloom believe that the reason local dairies remain successful is that there's a demand for real, fresh food.

"It's always fresh when I come in. It's a local business. I like to support local businesses, so it's nice that I can come from close by and buy milk right here," said Dana Scouton of Dallas.

Although neither farmer is worried about his business's bottom line, they do have concerns for the future.

"I'm worried about the future of farming in general. We're a shrinking part of the population," Manning said.

"I fear that that small feel is going to go away, and on average, overall, the animal welfare aspect is going to be diluted down to something we don't like," Mozloom said.

Dean Foods is currently working on selling the company to the Dairy Farmers of America.

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