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FoodBiz

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.

As global consumers continue to develop an appetite for American craft beers, many Michigan-based microbreweries have seized the opportunity to expand distribution into foreign markets.

Michigan’s growing base of craft hard cider producers have joined forces in a new industry association that aims to improve the supply of raw materials and drive awareness of the beverage among consumers.

A Kalamazoo-based firm has developed new technology that it says could bring back some favorable cold weather- and drought-resistant qualities to modern corn crops without resorting to genetic engineering.

Farmers, food processors and other people with agriculture innovations have a new venture to help get their ideas to market.

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