Oatly
Now playing
02:09
Oatly made oat milk cool in the US. Now it's eyeing China
Heinz ketchup packets are shown in New York on Monday, August 22, 2005. H.J. Heinz Co., the world's biggest ketchup maker, said first-quarter profit fell 19 percent on expenses to cut jobs and sell businesses.  (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Heinz ketchup packets are shown in New York on Monday, August 22, 2005. H.J. Heinz Co., the world's biggest ketchup maker, said first-quarter profit fell 19 percent on expenses to cut jobs and sell businesses. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Now playing
01:53
Restaurants face a nationwide ketchup packet shortage
Taco Bell
Now playing
01:31
Chicken sandwiches are big business. See them all
burger king
burger king
burger king
Now playing
02:11
Burger King slammed for International Women's Day tweet
CNN
Now playing
01:32
These are the racist origins of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben's
Now playing
01:16
See Burger King's retro new logo and uniforms
Now playing
03:39
This vegan restaurant is actually opening locations during the pandemic
Stew Leonard's
Now playing
04:46
Stew Leonard's CEO: We have plenty of food
Lifetime
Now playing
02:34
Mario Lopez stars as KFC's Col. Sanders in steamy movie
Now playing
02:48
Goldbelly is shipping food from iconic restaurants nationwide
Now playing
02:46
Why the world's largest ice cream company is betting on home delivery
screengrab mcplant
Getty Images
screengrab mcplant
Now playing
02:05
Internet mocks McDonald's new meatless burger
bacon mask 2
CNN
bacon mask 2
Now playing
02:00
This company is giving away bacon-scented face masks
Now playing
02:19
People are brewing fancier coffee at home. That's good for this company
Patrick Stewart and Mark Hamill, two legendary cultural icons, come together to settle the greatest debate of all time - what's for dinner?
Uber Eats/Youtube
Patrick Stewart and Mark Hamill, two legendary cultural icons, come together to settle the greatest debate of all time - what's for dinner?
Now playing
01:00
Uber Eats' new ad pits Luke Skywalker against Capt. Picard
Now playing
02:42
Imperfect Foods' business is booming during the pandemic
(CNN Business) —  

Dean Foods, America’s largest milk producer, is filing for bankruptcy.

The 94-year-old company has struggled in recent years because Americans are drinking less cows milk. 2019 has been particularly brutal: the company’s sales tumbled 7% in the first half of the year, and profit fell 14%. Dean Foods (DF) stock has lost 80% this year.

The company, which produces some of the country’s most recognizable milk and dairy products, including TruMoo, Dairy Pure and Land O’ Lakes milks, has blamed its struggles on the “accelerated decline in the conventional white milk category.” Dean Foods also processes and distributes some milk for Organic Valley through a joint venture.

Dean Foods owns a number of recognizable brands, including Dairy Pure.
Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Dean Foods owns a number of recognizable brands, including Dairy Pure.

The company is saddled with debt and has been unable to fund all of its workers’ pensions. So on Tuesday, Dean Foods filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to keep the business operating, reorganize its debt and help fund the pensions while it looks to sell the company.

Dean Foods said in a statement that it is working with the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative on a potential deal, in which the cooperative would buy almost all of the company.

As part of the bankruptcy process, the company secured $850 million in financing from its existing lenders, including Rabobank (RSWLDD), to keep the company running.

Once a staple of the American refrigerator, milk has slowly fallen out of favor with consumers as they seek less-sugary or plant-based alternatives.

The global market for milk alternatives is expected to top $18 billion this year, up 3.5% from 2018, according to Euromonitor. That’s still a fraction of the traditional milk market which will come in at just under $120 billion globally this year.

Sales for cow’s milk has been declining for the past four years. Sales for the past 52 weeks, ending on October 26, was around $12 billion, according to data Nielsen provided to CNN Business. That’s a decline from $15 billion during a similar time period in 2015. All types of cow’s milk, such as 1%, 2%, skim and fat-free milk sales have all declined.

In contrast, and while still much smaller, sales of oat milk has jumped 636% to $53 million over the past year.

That’s not the only problem Dean Foods has faced. Walmart, which was one of Dean Food’s biggest customers, dropped them last year after building its own dairy plant.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Organic Valley's relationship with Dean Foods