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Food/Agribusiness

SPONSORED BY DAN VOS CONSTRUCTION

When Tony Sarsam took the helm of SpartanNash Inc., he noticed parallels between the West Michigan food solutions company and the previous company he led.

State agriculture officials have announced $200,000 in grant funding to support a Norton Shores coffee producer’s expansion that would create the largest cold brew production facility in the United States.

ZEELAND TWP. — Walters Gardens Inc. is investing $9.15 million to expand its operations in Zeeland Charter Township with a new 40,000-square-foot greenhouse.


A recent survey of nearly 150 Michigan restaurant and hotel owners shows that most are still struggling with inadequate staffing and supply chain disruptions, and almost all employers are raising wages for their workers to address staffing shortages. 

BYRON CENTER — Grocery retailer and food distributor SpartanNash Co. has partnered with global tech company DoorDash Inc. to provide on-demand grocery delivery for a large swath of the nation.

The Howmet Aerospace Foundation has awarded $200,000 in grant funding to provide Muskegon-area students with increased access to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education through the lens of food processing and food science.



YPSILANTI — Unity Vibration Kombucha LLC, a Michigan-based brewer and the first to develop a kombucha beer, has inked a deal with a national beverage consultant firm to expand sales throughout the United States.

KALAMAZOO — Green Door Distilling Co. now has a National Basketball Association Hall of Fame player within its ownership group.

Newly introduced state legislation aims to bring clarity to a legal gray area that has prevented some Michigan bars and breweries from using their businesses to fuel charitable giving.


With farmland disappearing at a steady clip in Ottawa County, Julie Lamer and her colleagues are working to develop a toolbox of resources to preserve area farms.

With 2021 data pointing to a healthy rebound for the ailing nationwide craft beer industry, West Michigan brewers are heading into a pivotal year.

Indoor farming operator Square Roots Urban Growers has again teamed up with Gordon Food Service Inc. to launch a fourth farm and further expand the duo’s Midwest reach.



John Green is bringing lessons he learned as an industry-agnostic investor and entrepreneur to a new craft beverage venture.

State cannabis regulators are formulating rules for hemp farmers seeking to convert their harvests into synthetic marijuana products that produce similar highs to THC-laden products.

Seven Michigan farmland preservation programs have received $2 million in state funding to assist farmers with costs related to development rights on agricultural land and conservation easements.


Kent County officials will use federal COVID-19 relief funding to waive food licensing fees this year for all existing food establishments in the county, saving the average restaurant about $500.

Aself-described “west sider for life” who grew up in Muskegon, Poppy Sias-Hernandez continues to promote diversity, equity and inclusion through roles in the state and federal government. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed Sias-Hernandez as the first-ever chief equity and inclusion officer in the governor’s Executive Office as well as executive director of the state’s Office of Global Michigan, which seeks employment opportunities for immigrants and refugees. Most recently, Sias-Hernandez was tapped by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to serve on its newly established, 15-member equity commission that focuses on addressing historical discrimination at the agency and in farming communities. MiBiz caught up with Sias-Hernandez just before the commission’s first public meeting on Feb. 28.

Throughout his more than 35-year career at the helm of Bell’s Brewery Inc., Larry Bell was known for being one of the most outspoken proponents for independently owned craft breweries in the United States. 


As part of the second wave of American craft breweries, Founders Brewing Co. leaned on its innovation to help fuel the industry’s surging popularity over the last decade.

WYOMING — Gordon Food Service Inc. is poised to add new food categories to its offerings and expand its network of retailers through an upcoming acquisition.

HOLLAND — Hutt Trucking Co. Inc., which specializes in hauling refrigerated and frozen food products, has been acquired by a New Jersey-based logistics company.


A West Michigan egg producer has received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the federal government’s effort to strengthen rural communities across the country.

GRAND RAPIDS — Founders Brewing Co. has announced its new CEO just two weeks after one of its co-founders indicated he would be stepping away from the leadership position.

Michigan’s rapidly growing cannabis industry spurred Kalamazoo Valley Community College to unveil a series of certificate programs designed to prepare a new workforce for the sector.


In 1997, Mike Stevens teamed up with Hope College classmate Dave Engbers to turn their home brewing hobby into what is now known as Founders Brewing Co. It didn’t come easily, though, with 12 straight years finishing in the red, defaulting on two bank loans and staring down the barrel of bankruptcy twice. The Grand Rapids brewery eventually found its footing and became one of the largest craft breweries in the country. On Feb. 1, Stevens plans to step down in his role as CEO while still maintaining his ownership stake and serving on the board. MiBiz recently chatted with Stevens to reflect on his time at the helm.

Indoor farming operation Square Roots Urban Growers and Gordon Food Service Inc. are partnering to create a new farm in Kenosha, Wis.

BYRON CENTER — Grocery retailer and distributor SpartanNash Co. is leveraging a long-standing relationship with a West Coast partner to expand its distribution business.


West Michigan is poised to experience multiple cold storage and food supply chain expansions totaling tens of millions of dollars as the region’s agribusiness sector continues to thrive.

HOLLAND — Transportation solutions company Art Mulder & Sons Trucking Inc. plans to invest more than $31 million in a project to greatly enhance its cold storage capabilities.

GRAND RAPIDS — Founders Brewing Co. co-founder and CEO Mike Stevens is leaving his post at the helm of the craft brewery in the coming weeks.


The new year ushered in a new era for Bell’s Brewery Inc. as the iconic Kalamazoo-based craft brewer closed on its sale to Australian brewing conglomerate Lion Little World Beverages on Dec. 31. The deal partners Bell’s with New Belgium Brewing Co., which is also owned by Lion, while Bell’s founder Larry Bell walks away from the company. MiBiz spoke with Carrie Yunker, who oversees day-to-day operations at Bell’s as executive vice president, about the brewery’s future. 

Soft drink giant Monster Beverage Corp. announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the parent company of Comstock Park-based craft brewery Perrin Brewing Co.

LAWTON — Global food manufacturer Welch Foods Inc. plans to invest $26.2 million and add up to 57 jobs for a new bottling line planned at its facility in Van Buren County, state officials announced today.


Officials with Kalamazoo-based Bell’s Brewery Inc. are exploring new efficiencies with New Belgium Brewing Co. after the two craft beer staples formally completed a merger on Dec. 31.

KALAMAZOO — Bell’s Brewery Inc. started 2022 under new ownership after its sale to Australian brewing conglomerate Lion Little World Beverages closed on Dec. 31.

KALAMAZOO — When it first opened in 2008, the Can-Do Kitchen in Kalamazoo provided an avenue for budding food entrepreneurs to take their businesses outside of their homes and into a professional kitchen.


Still facing market pains ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan small craft distillers continue to lobby for looser state liquor control laws to help their businesses be more nimble and profitable.

Indoor farming operation Square Roots Urban Growers is expanding distribution for its leafy greens, herbs and other produce thanks to a newly-minted deal with Byron Center-based SpartanNash Co.

PLAINFIELD TWP. — Mike McDonald helped fuel an international expansion of his company’s all natural, sugar-free candy and treats by simply answering a few emails instead of jet setting to a vast network of global clients.


GRAND RAPIDS — After serving patrons as a brewpub for nearly a decade, Harmony Brewing Co. LLC is expanding to include the distribution of its beers in addition to a new line of wine and spirits.

A few West Michigan meat processors are recent beneficiaries of federal grant money to help the meat and poultry industry as it bounces back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With a $205 million expansion project in Holland Charter Township, frozen foods producer Request Foods Inc. is essentially doubling down on its commitment to the region where it got its start more than three decades earlier. 


While Larry Bell maintains that his patrons won’t see any noticeable changes after the planned sale of his Bell’s Brewery Inc. to the parent company of New Belgium Brewing Co., the two like-minded breweries have several synergies they could leverage to unlock cost savings.

GRAND RAPIDS — The West Michigan Environmental Action Council and Grand Rapids-based South East Market LLC have received a nearly $127,000 federal grant to help fund a program addressing food insecurity. 

HUDSONVILLE — Two Hudsonville-based food businesses have landed a combined $210,000 in state grant money to help fund expansion projects.


KALAMAZOO — Craft brewing pioneer Bell’s Brewery Inc., known for its popular Two Hearted Ale and Oberon brands, will be transitioning to new ownership. 

Kevin Farhat has a fully staffed Garage Bar & Grill near downtown Grand Rapids, and he’s hired about 30 more people to work at a new location opening soon in Ada.

KENTWOOD — A Vancouver-based beverage packaging manufacturer that has expanded its presence in the United States plans to purchase a Grand Rapids area company.