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FoodBiz

Craft beverage producers agree that federal regulations have not kept pace with the rapidly evolving industry, but help could be on the way.

KALAMAZOO — Instagram offers businesses a platform to share whimsical photos of their products or operations, but a Southwest Michigan pub alleges there’s nothing funny about the similarity between its trademarked name and the handle a software company is using on the social-networking service.

Michigan-based craft brewers want to change state law so the annual licensing fees they pay can go to benefit research and promotion for their industry rather than support a competing craft beverage sector.

With an overhaul of its sales team, facilities and marketing strategy, the Kalamazoo Wings are looking to breath new life into its storied semi-pro hockey organization.

When fans attend an NBA Development League game, they aren’t just potentially seeing the next crop of NBA players. They’re also getting a glimpse of the coaches, refs, rules and even uniforms that might someday make it to the big stage.

A decades-old provision in Michigan’s liquor laws has many of the state’s craft brewers crying in their beers. Their license fees, however nominal, go to fund agricultural research and promotion of the state’s grape and wine sector — not the beer industry or its agricultural supply chain of hops and barley.

While athletes for West Michigan’s semi-professional sports teams compete for dominance on the court, field or ice, each organization’s front office is doing the same in the sales game, chasing sponsorship dollars that account for a crucial piece of their annual budgets.

Ask West Michigan craft brewers about their experiences with the federal bureaucrat who singlehandedly approved thousands of beer labels over the last decade, and nearly all of them will have a story. Some of them are even printable.

The craft beverage industry in West Michigan is looking quite frothy these days.

For startup food vendors, gaining access to shelf space at major retailers such as Meijer Inc. and SpartanNash Co. can often mean the difference between remaining a cottage business or scaling up their operations to the next phase of growth.

Imagine spending time and resources to develop a product only to find out that you won’t be able to describe it on the label in a way you think best resonates with consumers.

To meet the growing demands from thirsty consumers, Michigan-based craft brewers have rapidly scaled up production at their manufacturing facilities.

Michigan hop producers have been on a growth streak in recent years, fueled by demand from the state’s craft beer industry for locally sourced ingredients.

As Michigan hops production spiked in recent years, startups have begun to recognize a need for another key locally sourced beer (and spirits) ingredient: malted grain.

With the acquisition of a West Michigan company, a California-based producer of specialty mushrooms plans to reinvigorate operations at a mostly idled food processing facility in Scottville, where it expects to grow
1 million pounds of fungi annually.

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