Dean Foods Expands California Dairy Fleet with Five Ryder Natural Gas Trucks

First alternative fuel trucks provided under Ryder/SANBAG natural gas vehicle project to reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental impact.

Miami: Ryder System Inc. announced delivery of five natural gas-fueled delivery vehicles to Dean Foods, Ryder's first customer for natural gas commercial vehicles made available through Ryder's agreement with the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) in Southern California. The $38.7 million effort is part of a joint public/private partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, the California Energy Commission, the Southern California Association of Governments Clean Cities Coalition, and Ryder System Inc. The Ryder/SANBAG project includes 202 natural gas vehicles, upgrades to three maintenance facilities for the proper servicing of natural gas vehicles, and the construction of two fueling stations.

Dean Foods is a leading dairy processor and owner of one of the largest refrigerated direct-store delivery distribution networks in the food and beverage industry. The company has made a significant commitment to reducing carbon emissions in its transportation fleet and investing in alternative fuel technology. The Ryder natural gas vehicles are the first of their kind in the Dean Foods fleet, and produce up to 27 percent less greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional diesel vehicles. Ryder delivered the compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks to Dean Foods' Alta Dena Dairy division in Southern California in early June.

"Dean Foods constantly looks for ways to reduce costs and drive efficiency in our operations," says Tom Murray, Pacific Coast Group vice president for Dean Foods, which includes Southern California's Alta Dena Dairy. "Advancements in transportation technology like the Ryder CNG vehicles also lower our carbon emissions and improve our environmental footprint in the communities like Southern California, where so many of our employees work and live."

"We are very excited to have Dean Foods as our first commercial fleet customer for gas vehicles in Southern California. Our participation in the SANBAG project puts Ryder at the forefront of alternative fuels options for commercial heavy-duty vehicles. We are committed to leadership in helping our customers manage their businesses more effectively, whether through fleet management outsourcing, affordable vehicle options, or these new natural gas offerings," says Alex Madrinkian, vice president of sales for Ryder's West Region.

The CNG vehicles support Dean Foods' Smart Fleet initiative, an enterprise-wide effort to "green the fleet" by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants through delivery route optimization, new technology, and equipment and training for drivers. Smart Fleet activities, including the new Ryder vehicles, play a role in meeting the company's carbon reduction goals. Dean Foods has committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2013.

With 6,000 refrigerated trailers, 3,000 refrigerated delivery trucks, 2,000 delivery tractors and 6,500 daily routes for direct store delivery, Dean Foods is the eighth largest private carrier in the country. This national scale gives Dean Foods the opportunity to lead innovation throughout the industry, improving the way manufacturers bring goods to consumers.

"Through our initiatives like the Southern California SANBAG joint partnership, Ryder offers an affordable entry point to help customers invest in an abundant, long-term domestic energy source. And we give them the flexibility to switch their fleet to green when they're ready. In other words, it's sustainability without a catch," says Madrinkian.

"We appreciate the partnership with Ryder on this important initiative," says Mike Ahart, Dean Foods vice president of transportation. "Ryder is an important strategic supplier that has demonstrated a focus on helping customers succeed with environmentally-friendly, alternative fuel transportation options. We applaud Ryder's desire to help customers bring new technologies into their fleets."

Ahart also commended Ryder's commitment to simplifying access to sustainable fleet efficiencies: "We appreciate Ryder's role in bringing CNG vehicles to market, driving growth in sustainable transportation projects."

The five single-axle tractors pull 28-foot delivery refrigerated pup trailers. Dean Foods expects a smooth integration of the new vehicles with minimal impact on current operations. The company anticipates adding more CNG vehicles to its fleet in the future.