Broughton dairy’s production may be shrinking

A partial loss of dairy business with a national retailer may result in less milk production for Broughton Foods in Marietta.

But that does not necessarily mean there will be layoffs at the plant, according to a spokesman for Dallas, Texas-based Dean Foods, which owns the Broughton company.

Jamaison Schuler, senior manager of corporate communications for Dean Foods, said Thursday that a loss of some business with the national chain was part of the company’s annual report for 2012, which was released on Wednesday.

The chain has a store in Marietta as well as several others in the Mid-Ohio Valley, although Schuler wouldn’t confirm the retailer or whether all local locations would no longer carry Broughton products.

“We did lose a portion of a customer’s volume due to strategic decisions by the customer and pricing discipline by Dean Foods during a recent regional bidding process. Dean Foods retained a majority of the customer’s private-label (house brand) milk business,” Schuler said. “But some of our facilities may not process the same volume of milk they have processed before.”

He noted Dean Foods has 75 dairy plants across the U.S., and all are suppliers of the national retail customer involved.

Schuler said the customer had decided to diversify its product offerings, and Dean Foods respected that decision.

“Broughton Dairies is one of many Dean Foods brands across the country, and the impact of the lost volume as a result of this process will be realized in different geographies,” he said. “The specific impact is still being determined, and though we have a high-level plan, it’s premature to speculate about the specific impact to the Broughton Foods operations.”

There have been rumors that layoffs could be coming at the Broughton plant due to the expected reduction in milk processing for the national retailer.

Cutler resident Alice Bauerbach had heard from a friend that Broughton employees may be laid off because of the national retailer’s actions.

“I would like to know why,” she said. “This is taking jobs and business out of our area.”

Schuler would not comment on any rumors about the Broughton plant, “But I will reiterate that the specific impact on our plants is still being determined,” he said.

The Dean Foods annual report to investors released Wednesday did mention the anticipated closing of 10 percent to 15 percent of the company’s plants, as well as eliminating a significant number of distribution routes to bring costs under control, according to Dean Foods Chief Executive Officer Gregg Tanner.

But Schuler said at this time there has been no determination of which of the company’s facilities would be affected.

Dave Broughton, general manager of Broughton Foods in Marietta referred all questions to Dean Foods officials.

Broughton Foods is a leading dairy operating in regions of Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia. With home offices based in Marietta, Broughton is a full-line dairy distributing an expansive line of products including a wide variety of milks, premium and homestyle ice cream, novelty ice cream, juices and fruit drinks, cottage cheese, sour cream and chip dip. Broughton Dairy was founded in Marietta in 1910. The company has about 230 employees.