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Food/Agribusiness

SPONSORED BY DAN VOS CONSTRUCTION

KALAMAZOO — Bell’s Brewery Inc. has launched a new charitable initiative that expects to distribute $480,000 in donations in its first year and support social and environmental causes in communities where its products are distributed.

A Mead Johnson & Co. LLC production facility in Zeeland is set to receive more than 300,000 pounds of infant base formula to blend, package and redistribute in the coming weeks as federal officials seek to ease an ongoing supply shortage.

As a sober resident in a city widely recognized for its craft beer scene, Paul Clark struggled to find non-alcoholic options outside of soda, coffee or sparkling water. 


ZEELAND — A West Michigan formula producer will import roughly 331,000 pounds of infant formula base powder this month from a facility in Mexico to be blended, packaged and redistributed.

CADILLAC — Long Road Distillers LLC is shutting down its Cadillac tasting room after a year in business because of staffing challenges.

While restaurant owners have warned of impending industry collapse — or at least uncertain operating conditions — of swiftly strengthening the state’s minimum wage and paid sick leave requirements, their workers have welcomed recent developments that they say ensure economic stability.



Michigan employers will have at least six months to prepare for an increase to the state’s minimum wage and stronger paid sick leave requirements following a Friday court ruling that brought swift applause from restaurant owners.

GRAND RAPIDS — Roskam Baking Co., the quietly massive operation that helped put West Michigan on the map as a center for food manufacturing, has sold to new private equity owners after nearly a century as a family owned business. 

86 Repairs Inc., a restaurant equipment repair and maintenance company founded in Grand Rapids, has raised $15.2 million from investors to support the company’s ongoing growth.


State officials are preparing to distribute federal block grant funding for Michigan seafood processors that significantly shifted from a wholesale to a retail focus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WYOMING — Food service distributor Gordon Food Service Inc. is among the returning investors in a Chicago-based venture capital fund that invests in the food and retail industries. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Restaurant operator Meritage Hospitality Group Inc. is expanding its holdings in Florida with a deal to acquire six Wendy’s locations in Jacksonville. 



Already pinched by an ongoing dearth of available workers, restaurants are also facing significant increases in their expenses tied to equipment maintenance and repairs.

Small distilleries and grain farmers in Michigan are poised to benefit from a new state law that incentivizes the use of Michigan-grown grains when producing liquor.

BATTLE CREEK — Kellogg Co. has unveiled plans to split into three independent companies and base the corporate headquarters for the largest of the three in Chicago.


WYOMING — As a food distributor serving a large swath of the country, Gordon Food Service Inc. is closely involved with the pain points facing restaurants and food service operations.

BYRON CENTER — Food retailer and distributor SpartanNash Co. has closed on a deal to purchase the Shop-N-Save Food Center chain of grocery stores.

Following months of contention with an activist investor group, SpartanNash Co. shareholders late last week rejected an attempt to seat three new directors to the company’s board.


BYRON CENTER — Food retailer and distributor SpartanNash Co. has fended off efforts by an activist investor group to seat three directors on the company’s nine-person board.

PENINSULA TWP. — A group of Northern Michigan wineries have found relief from a collection of township ordinances that business owners said restricted their operations and limited significant revenue streams.

Metropolitan Grand Rapids will be home to a new federal urban agriculture committee designed to help the nation’s Farm Service Agency administer its programs at a local level.


Local entrepreneur Terra Osman leveraged her self-taught development skills to create a mobile app that connects buyers and sellers of local produce and garden supplies.

Local investors joined an $82 million capital round for a company that began in Kalamazoo and developed an ecologically friendly pesticide.

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.