USA – Dean Foods, an American food and beverage company and the largest dairy company in US, has announced that it is shutting one of its major Illinois facilities this year, with ‘decreased dairy consumption trends’ among the reasons given for the decision.

According to Plant Based News, The closure is one of a number predicted for 2018 as consumer tastes change.

Dean Foods said it plans to close a number of facilities this year, according to its 2017 annual investors report, which put the closures down to ‘decreased dairy consumption trends and a highly competitive industry’.

“The challenges faced in 2017 served as a catalyst to drive a sense of urgency around programmatic and structural changes in the second half of the year and into 2018,” said the report.

Other reports have also speculated that the decision could be linked to Walmart building its own milk production plant in Indiana.

According to the company, it appears to be diversifying its portfolio by investing in plant-based alternatives to cow’s milk.

Last year, it acquired a minority stake in plant-based brand Good Karma, which mainly makes drinks and yogurt products from flax.

“Good Karma is a fast-growing brand that gets us back into the growing plant-based food and beverage category, making it an excellent addition to our portfolio,” said Ralph Scozzafava, CEO of Dean Foods.

“Our investment in Good Karma is just one example of how we are executing against one of the major pillars of our strategic plan, to build and buy strong brands.

As majority owners, we look forward to working with Doug and his team to continue their strong momentum and support their growth agenda.”