DALLAS — Eric Beringause has been named president and chief executive officer at Dean Foods Co., replacing Ralph Scozzafava, who stepped down as c.e.o. and resigned from the board of directors. No reason was provided for Mr. Scozzafava’s resignation.
Mr. Beringause brings to the role more than 30 years of leadership and operational experience at a range of food, beverage and consumer products brands. Previously, he was c.e.o. at dairy-based food and beverage producer Gehl Foods, L.L.C. Before that, he was c.e.o. at Advanced Refreshment, a private label bottled water and water beverage company. He also was c.e.o. at Sturm Foods, Inc., which specializes in private label food products, specialty food brands and contract manufacturing. He previously held several positions in business development, finance and sales and marketing at Gerber Infant & Baby Products, ConAgra, Inc., Nestle, Inc., Nabisco Brands and The Pillsbury Co.
“We believe Eric is the right leader to drive the transformation of the business as the company continues to execute on its enterprise-wide cost productivity plan and its previously announced exploration of strategic alternatives,” said Jim Turner, non-executive chairman of the Dean Foods board. “He has a long track record of creating value in dairy and consumer products companies, as well as a unique combination of turnaround and operational expertise.”
The Dean Foods portfolio includes national brands DairyPure TruMoo, as well as more than 50 regional, local and private label dairy brands.
In February, the company initiated a strategic review to explore such options as a merger, joint venture, sale or disposal of assets. Dean Foods announced the review a day before releasing fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 earnings results. For the year ended Dec. 31, 2018, the company recorded a loss of $260,117,000, which compared unfavorably to fiscal 2017 when the company earned $52,318,000. Sales for the year were flat at $7,755,283,000 compared to sales of $7,795,025,000 the year prior.
Challenged by rising freight costs and lower fluid milk consumption, the company last year launched an aggressive productivity plan to reduce costs. Actions included the closing and consolidation of seven manufacturing plants in a six-week period.
During a May 8 earnings call, Mr. Scozzafava provided an update on the review.
“It’s very possible that we won’t do anything, and we’ll continue to execute the plan that we have, which we’re very happy with, and we’ll continue to make progress on it,” he said. “So look, we’ve been in conversations with some folks, and we’ll leave it at that.”