Dean Foods leaving IDFA over labeling issue |

Dean Foods leaving IDFA over labeling issue

The Hagstrom Report

In a sign of the growing conflict between animal-based and plant-based beverages, Dean Foods, a major dairy company, has left the International Dairy Foods Association over IDFA’s unwillingness to oppose the labeling of plant-based beverages as milk, the company said last week.

Dean Foods issued the following statement:

“Dean Foods has been a strong supporter of the International Dairy Foods Association for many years, however we have reached a point where one of our key priorities is no longer shared by the entire IDFA organization. More specifically, as one of the largest dairy processors in the country, we are proud of the role we play in providing one of the most nutritious products in the grocery store — milk — to consumers around the nation. With this in mind, we believe it is wrong that many plant-based products are currently marketed using milk’s good name yet are lacking several of the inherent nutrients of their dairy counterparts. Unfortunately, IDFA has been unable to reach consensus and take a stance on this important issue.

“As a result, we have decided that we can no longer financially support an organization that is not behind one of our core priorities. We’ll instead divert our advocacy resources to pursuing accurate product labeling for the benefit of the dairy industry, including farmers, processors and consumers around the country. We have appreciated IDFA’s support over the years and wish the organization and its member companies the best.”

Matt Herrick, an IDFA spokesman, said, “Dean Foods has been an important member of IDFA and we wish them well. Departures from IDFA are very rare. More than 30 companies joined as members in 2019 alone thanks to a more inclusive association that represents and engages all segments of the growing dairy industry, from milk, yogurt and ice cream to cheese and dairy-derived ingredients. IDFA is proud to advocate on behalf of America’s dairy companies.”

Alan Bjerga, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation, which represents dairy farmers, said, “NMPF wholeheartedly agrees with Dean Foods on the importance of achieving labeling integrity that benefits consumers. We also place great value on our wide-ranging, and essential, collaboration with IDFA across a wide range of issues crucial to our industry. We look forward to working with all our partners as we advance dairy together.” ❖