Food/Agribusiness

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SHELBY — Family-owned fruit processor Peterson Farms Inc. is expanding its operations in Oceana County, north of Muskegon. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Atwater Brewery, a Detroit-based brewery with a satellite taproom in Grand Rapids, has been acquired by Chicago-based Molson Coors Beverage Co., one of the largest international brewing conglomerates. 

West Michigan’s farmers will be wading through the confluence of negatives brought on last year ranging from extreme weather, volatile commodity prices and trade wars well into 2020. 

LANSING — Neogen Corp. announced its second international acquisition in a week with a deal for Italy-based Diessechem S.R.L., a distributor of food and feed safety diagnostic products. 

While craft beverage industry insiders expect more deals ahead nationally in 2020, the market in Michigan may be poised to level off. 

GRAND RAPIDS — An established West Michigan brewery whose products are available on shelves statewide is taking a novel approach to getting its newest brand out to market. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Comstock Park-based Speciation Artisan Ales LLC plans to open a new taproom along the burgeoning Wealthy Street corridor in Grand Rapids. 

Companies working in the marijuana industry are expecting a busy year in 2020, as more licensed businesses open and additional communities begin regulating recreational operations. 

News that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement appears to be headed toward ratification comes as a positive for farmers across the country and especially in Michigan. 

Alcoholic beverage producers that want to market their products beyond their home markets are facing many tough realities as competition continues to ratchet up and as consumers’ preferences shift in often unexpected ways (see: hard seltzer). For its part, regional cider maker Vander Mill LLC continues to expand its markets geographically as it makes sense and with the right wholesale partners, said co-founder Paul Vander Heide. To start the new year, the company is focused on commissioning a new large-scale apple press with the aim of improving product quality and margin.

After a deposition leaked in the racial discrimination lawsuit filed against Grand Rapids-based Founders Brewing Co., the brewery again made national headlines when Graci Harkema, its diversity and inclusion director, publicly resigned after less than a year in the position. Founders went on to settle the lawsuit, although the case has remained a topic of conversation in the craft beer industry. Meanwhile, Harkema has started her own business, Graci LLC, to focus on sharing diversity and inclusion best practices within the adult beverage industry.

Dairy producers are struggling to make ends meet, and many dairy farmers have lost money for months or even several years straight. Jem-Lot Dairy’s Stephanie Schafer, who is also a district director with the Michigan Farm Bureau, said the situation is largely the result of low milk prices. Her farm keeps 300 dairy cows in Clinton County. 

Bell’s Brewery Inc. founder Larry Bell sees another two years of turmoil ahead for the craft brewing industry, particularly as growth continues to level off and as more owners opt to take “a boatload of money” and sell their companies. As Bell’s Brewery looks ahead to celebrating its 35th year in business in 2020, the company continues to remind customers that it remains a quality and fiercely independent option amid a growing number of products now part of multinational conglomerates. 

Egg producer Herbruck Poultry Ranch Inc. will pay $93,000 to settle a disability harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

As Pabst Brewing Co. broadens its reach beyond the iconic Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, the global drinks company is increasingly leveraging its relationship with New Holland Brewing Co. to break into new categories.

GRAND RAPIDS — Organic food delivery service Doorganics LLC has been acquired by venture capital-backed GrubMarket Inc. of San Francisco, Calif.

Order delays and technology glitches for one of the authorized liquor distributors in Michigan have craft distilleries calling for changes to the state’s Prohibition-era distribution system. 

For every dollar that Americans spent on yesterday’s Thanksgiving dinner meals, growers and ranchers received just 12.1 cents — even less than their average slice of the pie throughout the year.

GRAND RAPIDS — Cedar Springs Brewing Co. will join the bustling craft beverage scene on Bridge Street with a new satellite taproom and brewery. 

GRAND RAPIDS — After more than three and a half years in business, Gray Skies Distillery LLC has rebranded as Eastern Kille Distillery, effective immediately, to coincide with the first statewide launch of the company’s bourbon. 

Michael Klumpp did not know what to expect when he ventured into the world of industrial hemp, but the farmer soon realized growing a viable crop was only half the battle.

Traditional, outdoor agriculture is profoundly dependent on climate, but high-tech indoor farms that grow premium, hyper-local produce for consumers year round may be commercially viable in the future.

WYOMING — Gordon Food Service Inc. hopes to expand into Indiana with a proposed new distribution center. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Conklin-based Pux Cider hopes to open its first tasting room in early 2020 in Grand Rapids’ Midtown neighborhood. 

SAWYER — A Southwest Michigan brewery is expanding with a new location in Indiana in partnership with a SpartanNash Co.-owned grocery store. 

LANSING — Medical marijuana provider Green Peak Innovations LLC closed on $10 million in mezzanine financing to support expansion in Michigan and elsewhere.

GRAND RAPIDS — After five years in operation tucked away in a nondescript office building along U.S. 131, mead maker Arktos LLC plans to move to a new location along Grand Rapids’ bustling Bridge Street corridor. 

KALAMAZOO — In the four years since Kalamazoo Valley Community College launched its sustainable brewing program, it could use student-made beers for tastings and instructional purposes, but not offer it for sale in its on-campus full-service restaurant. 

Agricultural land values have remained relatively stable throughout most regions in Michigan, even though many farmers continue to face serious headwinds. 

As the hunt for PFAS contamination has expanded into crops and livestock, it has revealed new food safety concerns related to the limited state-led testing system and lax federal standards. 

Despite a historically cold spring, a year-over-year decline in acreage and new outbreaks of pests, some local growers of hops are reporting record-breaking harvests. 

Working under the hot summer sun, Ricardo Martinez and Yolanda Garrido concentrated on meeting their quota. They lost track of the hours, but bucket-by-bucket, seven days a week, they picked blueberries at a farm in Southwest Michigan. 

After operating its brewing facility in a 700-square-foot space since 2017, the owners of Arvon Brewing Co. in Grandville say they are ready to grow the business.

Brien Fox moved into the chairmanship at the Lansing-based Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association as the craft brewing industry in Michigan continues to gain in popularity. The CEO of the family-owned Henry A. Fox Sales Co. in Kentwood was elected to a two-year term as chairman on July 31 during the annual meeting of the association, which represents nearly 50 beer and wine distributors across Michigan that employ about 6,000 people. He spoke with MiBiz about his role and the state’s beer and wine industry.

GRAND RAPIDS — Founders Brewing Co. is selling a majority stake in the business to the brewery’s Spain-based minority shareholder, MiBiz has learned. 

The death count from frightful incidents involving enclosed grain elevators is on the rise — a stark reminder to West Michigan’s agricultural industry of the dangers of grain handling.

The company Confident Cannabis was launched less than four years ago by four Stanford Business School alums. Today, 50 percent of the legal cannabis produced in the U.S. across 25 states passes through the Palo Alto, Calif-based company’s lab-testing platform, which allows business-to-business buying and selling of cannabis.

SpartanNash Co.’s present chairman and former CEO, Dennis Eidson, returned to running the company today following the abrupt resignation of President and CEO David Staples amid an expected quarterly loss.

KENTWOOD — Roskam Baking Co. is planning an $85.2 million expansion of its operations in the Grand Rapids area. 

When Michigan voters legalized medical marijuana more than a decade ago, advocates hailed it as a landslide victory for patients. 

Officials in Muskegon and Holland say they’re responding to voters as they take disparate approaches to medical marijuana businesses.

new bill would end a time-consuming bonding process needed to get a license for Michigan-based craft beverage producers and certain out-of-state companies that sell alcoholic beverages in Michigan. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Tensions between Michigan craft beverage producers and the state regulatory agency appear to be ratcheting up with the filing of a new federal lawsuit, MiBiz has learned. 

Time has run out for about 10 percent of crops in the state, as Michigan farmers face delays related to one of the wettest spring seasons on record. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this month reversed a policy from the Snyder administration that blocked commercial solar energy projects on property enrolled in the state’s farmland preservation program.

LANSING — Michigan lawmakers are allocating $15 million to a low-interest loan program to help farmers wrestling with crop losses associated with historic rainfall this spring.

 The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is advising consumers not to eat any foods produced by Wyoming-based Charley’s Food Design Inc., also known as Charley’s Chips Company.