Financial troubles at a Texas beverage maker are sending a panic through Fishtown. Speculation has swirled around the River Wards neighborhood that Arctic Splash could be in peril.
Dean Foods Co., the Dallas-based manufacturer behind the Philly-famous iced tea drink, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November to address its debts as it moves to sell the company.
What would happen to Fishtown without those white-and-blue iced teavessels littering its streets like paleoanthropological artifacts? What riots would erupt if people could no longer down a stiff Long Island Iced Tea straight out of a funkily lettered carton at Interstate Drafthouse? What doomed cultural epoch awaits us in a world without Arctic Splash?
Turns out, there’s no reason to fear — for now.
Anne Divjak, VP of government relations and communications for Dean Foods, confirmed to Billy Penn the Chapter 11 filing has no impact on production at this time.
“It is business as usual for us,” Divjak said. “Arctic Splash is an iconic brand in Philly and as long as our customers and their thirsty consumers keep demanding it, we will absolutely keep making it.”
Dairy woes have been the main squeeze on the company.
According to bankruptcy filings, Dean Foods has suffered a 2% year-over-year decline in milk sales as U.S. consumers shift their palettes toward nondairy products. Dean also listed struggles specific to its own business, including unfunded debt obligations.
While Arctic Splash is reportedly safe for now, there are some signs of concern at the beverage manufacturer.
The company is seeking court approval to issue $37 million in bonuses — not for top execs, but to incentivize about 2,200 “essential” employees to stay on board and keep production afloat, Bloomberg reported.
It’s not clear how much the relatively small customer base for the iced tea played into matrix of problems. The company does not provide production or distribution numbers for its specific brands, Divjak said.
In 2016, Billy Penn reported on Arctic Splash sales plummeting at its most popular purveyors in Fishtown. The reason? Dean Foods mixed up the recipe — to make it healthier. Dropping a few calories and switching from high fructose corn syrup to real sugar apparently turned some customers off at the time.
For now, you still have time to stock up.