Food/Agribusiness

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GRAND RAPIDS — Grand Rapids native Alita Kelly saw a market need on the south side of the city and formed a pickup and delivery food service that will mainly source from Black and Indigenous farmers, as well as women producers. 

When 2012 brought a drought to the state, it had corn growers feeling a bit skittish about their yield potential, which caused corn prices to peak.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, major grocery retailers were already shifting to a more futuristic shopping experience in which customers either pre-order online and pick up at the store or act as their own clerk by scanning items as they go. 

Dennis Grumm has heard these rumblings before. As the founder, CEO and lead engineer for Grand Rapids-based Oktober Design LLC, which sells can seamers to seal lids on cans so breweries can conduct small-scale or to-go canning, he’s used to hearing murmurs that the industry’s staple container might be in short supply.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. is launching $1.25 million in grant funding for to help small farms mitigate pandemic-related costs.

GRAND RAPIDS — A recycling company hopes to help Kent County achieve its ambitious goal of diverting 90 percent of the county’s trash from landfills by 2030 by working directly with restaurants and grocers to reduce food and beverage waste. 

The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association has launched a training program for bar and restaurant employees on how to properly de-escalate disputes with customers over pandemic-related restrictions.

BUCHANAN — An Ann Arbor-based cannabis company is set to open its second West Michigan retail store for recreational and medical sales amid continued industry growth in the region.

GAINES TOWNSHIP — Irie Kitchen LLC recently reopened for takeout, and proved it has a large base of support after raising more than $100,000 following vandalism in early June.

ZEELAND — Outdoor seating has been a game changer for restaurants and bars reopening this summer, making Laura Gentry even more grateful that she expanded outdoor seating space at her Zeeland brewpub a few years ago.

A coalition of bars and restaurants started in Grand Rapids is “trying to build some solidarity” within the industry around managing facilities responsibly during the pandemic, following recent COVID-19 spikes linked to bars that led Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to close many of them for indoor service.

LANSING — Michigan restaurants and bars are now able to expand alcohol sales as well as the area where patrons can consume drinks. 

GRAND RAPIDS — The Kent County Health Department has ordered a downtown Grand Rapids bar to close after video surfaced this weekend of large crowds of patrons not adhering to social distancing and other measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

JW’s Food & Spirits had never offered outdoor seating in the more than two decades the restaurant and bar has been in operation at the corner of North 7th Street and Washington Avenue east of downtown Grand Haven. 

Dozens of crops grown in West Michigan are hand-picked by seasonal and migrant farmworkers. 

After a brief hiatus from the market, one of the pioneering brands in the Michigan craft beer industry will once again be back on store shelves. 

Perrigo Co. plc plans to enter the CBD market through a strategic investment and a long-term agreement with a Colorado supplier.

REED CITY — A pilot project spearheaded by global food processor General Mills Inc. aims to help improve the stability of dairy farms, starting with a trio of West Michigan operations and a focus on regenerative agricultural practices. 

Overly aggressive expansions, lease disputes and sagging interest in craft beer-based casual restaurants were contributing factors to BarFly Ventures LLC’s bankruptcy filing this month before business was decimated by COVID-19, court records show.

HAMILTON — A pair of Indiana cooperatives have formed a strategic joint venture to acquire an Allegan County agricultural retail business owned by CHS Inc.

GRAND RAPIDS — While restaurants and bars were able to reopen for dine-in service on Monday after a nearly three-month hiatus, some owners are keeping their dining rooms closed a little longer as a safety precaution for customers and employees.

Farmers grew nearly 4,000 acres of industrial hemp across 58 Michigan counties in 2019 as part of the state’s inaugural year of a pilot program to test the viability of the crop here.

Restaurants across Michigan are slowly reengaging under occupancy limits and heightened measures to protect workers and patrons’ safety. 

West Michigan restaurant and bar owners who are preparing to reopen June 8 under the state’s new rules and capacity restrictions can look to their up north colleagues for clues as to how the new process will go. 

GAINES TOWNSHIP — A black-owned business south of Grand Rapids was “basically targeted,” owners said today after discovering shattered windows at their restaurant.

GRAND RAPIDS — BarFly Ventures LLC, the parent company of the HopCat chain of beer bars, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this morning in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan. 

As northern Michigan restaurants and bars reopen under occupancy limits and other restrictions, business leaders and city officials are considering ways to expand the footprint of existing restaurants to help boost revenue.

Bars and restaurants that want to open outdoor service areas can now take advantage of a streamlined permitting process through the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. 

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission has returned nearly $3.4 million to licensees as part of a liquor buyback program to support bars and restaurants during the state-mandated closure to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

KALAMAZOO — Southwest Michigan biosciences company Native Traits Corp. plans to use a recent investment to move its high-yield and weather-resistant seed technology into field testing and production.

MUSKEGON — The line was 15 cars long on a recent Thursday evening, with employees shuffling between vehicles and the retail shop to scan IDs and run products out to patrons.

GRAND RAPIDS — In March, organizers at the Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids were preparing for their biannual soup-tasting fundraiser. Usually, vendors and West Michigan restaurants donate soups for the event. Hundreds of people gather to taste food from the cooler weather season, catch up with one another and support the market.

MUSKEGON — As one of the only restaurants open in downtown Muskegon, Topshelf Liquor Bar & Pizza owner Jim Noel is sticking to a formula he knows well. 

THREE OAKS — Other than the early days of launching Journeyman Distillery LLC, founder Bill Welter cannot recall a more difficult business environment than the present.

STEVENSVILLE — Peat’s Cider Social had been open for less than two weeks when co-founder Dan Peat began hearing about a highly infectious virus that was starting to affect various parts of the country. 

The trade association representing Michigan restaurants issued guidelines and a checklist today for reopening.

Michigan distilleries that switched to hand sanitizer production are keeping the lights on, but they face a tough road ahead with on-premise sales at bars and restaurants at a standstill for the foreseeable future. 

BATTLE CREEK — Consumers stocking up on cereals, snacks and other foods during the global COVID-19 pandemic have led to “significantly” higher sales for Kellogg Co. 

The recent shutdown forced many small craft beverage companies to shift their business models on the fly. 

Oktober Design LLC proves the aphorism of being in the right place at the right time when it comes to finding success in business. 

Mitch Ermatinger’s outlook has improved in the weeks since the mid-March closure of all Michigan bars and restaurants, but the economic effects of the pandemic are still weighing heavily on the co-founder of Speciation Artisan Ales LLC. 

As the new coronavirus spreads throughout the Midwest and people’s behaviors change as a result, Michigan’s turkey farms are struggling to stay afloat. 

Michigan’s craft beverage industry is facing a challenge with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic that is unlike any other in its history. 

Craft beverage companies have been rocked by an unprecedented crisis, one caused not by bad business decisions or fundamental industry shifts, but by widespread closures related to a sweeping public health concern. 

Two prominent players in Michigan’s cannabis and craft brewing industries have launched a new product merging their areas of expertise: beer-flavored edibles.

Launching a new craft beverage business can prove challenging in even the best of economic times, let alone in the middle of a global pandemic.

When Nic and Joanna Merrill heard about shortages of hand sanitizer in Southwest Michigan, they began wondering how their company, craft distillery Kalamazoo Stillhouse, could help fill the void. 

Michigan greenhouses and nurseries say they are pleased and ready to open following an executive order today by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer loosening restrictions on some businesses as COVID-19 cases level off.