Food/Agribusiness

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GRAND RAPIDS  Alliance Beverage Distributing LLC plans to expand into the northern Lower Peninsula by acquiring another wholesaler’s beer distribution rights, MiBiz has learned.

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LANSING — A series of bills could open the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council to members from the distilling, craft beer and other alcoholic beverage segments.

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Greg Koch has a front row view of the seismic shifts playing out in the world of American craft brewing. The co-founder and executive chairman of Escondido, Calif.-based Stone Brewing Co. — the 17th largest brewery in the country — also isn’t shy about sharing his views on the trend of large conglomerates buying up craft breweries.

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GRAND RAPIDS — When Edwin Collazo and Dave Petroelje announced plans in late 2015 to launch a craft brewery north of downtown, only one other producer had set up shop in the area.

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“It’s definitely not easy anymore.”
— Jason Spaulding, Brewery Vivant

As Michigan’s craft beverage industry matures and gets more competitive, it’s causing more than a few growing pains to emerge. Additionally, the pace of growth has slowed, forcing producers
to rely on solid business practices to succeed. In this comprehensive special report, MiBiz examines how these companies are adapting their strategies to survive in the ever-changing market.

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Thirsty Michigan craft beer consumers bought the equivalent of around 59,000 more pints of Brewery Vivant’s beer in 2016 than they did the year before.

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Saugatuck Brewing Co. thought it was being edgy in 2011 when it coined the name “Hop on a Blonde” for its new blonde ale.

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As the craft brewing industry grows in Michigan and beyond, it has been met with a continual skepticism about whether the market can support even more producers. Every industry hiccup stirs talk of a craft beer bubble that’s on the verge of bursting. In separate interviews, MiBiz brought that discussion to three professional advisers to get their take on the state of the industry.

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Dynamics within the maturing craft beer industry are creating new growth opportunities for suppliers.

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Proposed federal budget cuts have the potential to wipe out key hop and barley research programs that have helped improve the quality of the raw material supply chain for craft brewers.

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Michigan craft breweries have only just started to sell their beer in international markets, but many in the industry believe exporting could soon become an important diversification strategy.

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ROCKFORD — When Seth Rivard and his partners opened Rockford Brewing Co. in 2012 along the White Pine Trail about 15 miles north of Grand Rapids, they turned to a federal lending program that backs bank loans for small businesses.

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With more than 5,300 craft brewers already on the market, and many more scheduled to open in the near future, the craft brewing industry has started to mature.

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JACKSON — Indian Brook Trout Farm Inc. plans to leverage $150,000 it received through a state grant to win vital contracts with national grocery retailers.

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Changes to the federal tax code implemented at the beginning of the year could alleviate burdensome financial and bureaucratic rules for many craft beverage makers. 

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During this year’s ArtPrize, downtown Grand Rapids was filled with the expected sights — oversized artwork, misused crosswalks, the guy riding a fish bicycle. But there was a surprise greeting visitors who flocked to the eighth-annual event: Food trucks. All over the place. With lines in front of them.

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When urban farming entered the mainstream thinking of community and economic developers, many prospective farmers envisioned a quick payday selling their products to high-end restaurants and other retailers. 

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Zeeland Farm Services Inc. plans to invest $130 million into a new soybean processing facility in Ithaca, 45 miles north of Lansing.

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major player in Big Agriculture is poised to expand its influence in the industry.

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When Bill Welter was searching for a location to start a distillery in 2010, he chose a site in Three Oaks, Mich. over his home state of Indiana.

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SAWYER — When Greenbush Brewery Co. needed to expand its production facility, co-owner Scott Sullivan faced a conundrum. 

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GRAND RAPIDS — SpartanNash Co. has to overcome a key hurdle in attracting craft beer shoppers to the retailer’s high-end D&W Fresh Market Breton Village store. 

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The retail landscape is changing for Michigan’s largest craft beverage producers, which continue to grow at a rapid pace. In this comprehensive special report, MiBiz examines the opportunities, challenges and strategies these companies are deploying in an ever-changing market.

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new law passed earlier this month modernizes a provision in Michigan’s liquor control code that many craft beverage producers were unknowingly violating in recent years. 

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A year and a half after launching Railtown Brewing Co. in Dutton, Justin Buiter and Gim Lee realized their craft brewery needed to expand well ahead of schedule. 

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If ever there was a sign that the craft beer business has matured, it’s that the money has finally showed up and taken an interest in the industry.

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The craft beer industry in Michigan essentially started with Larry Bell in 1985 launching what would become Bell’s Brewery Inc. Since then, and especially over the last decade, the industry has taken off in West Michigan and beyond. 

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In an attempt to differentiate themselves from their competition, craft breweries in Michigan and nationwide have started to infuse various combinations flavors into their beers. 

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As the craft beverage industry matures, it’s attracted new entrants who may be more concerned with making a quick profit than with the quality of the liquid. 

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Pioneers of the craft brewing industry face a steep challenge from the growing market they helped establish. 

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A West Michigan attorney is among a group of legal professionals nationwide hoping to raise the bar for advising the growing craft beverage industry.

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While the challenge of finding talent makes headlines in the manufacturing and high-tech industries, similar struggles in West Michigan’s agricultural sector have the potential to hit even closer to home: the dinner table. 

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KALAMAZOO — Ernie Pang’s goal to produce healthier snack foods didn’t quite pan out at first.

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As craft beer exports present consistent growth opportunities for American producers, internationally-distributing companies such as Grand Rapids-based Founders Brewing Co. note that overseas markets are making up an ever-increasing portion of their sales.

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As the craft brewing industry matures, many West Michigan producers have started seeking out technology that provides sustainable solutions to common issues. 

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In a bid to grow the talent pool for Michigan’s nascent craft brewing industry, Byron Center-based Pilot Malt House LLC has announced a $500 scholarship for students in the sustainable brewing program at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

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In launching a monthly beer series for 2016, Big Rapids-based Cranker’s Restaurant and Brewery wanted to package its specialty beverages in 22-ounce bottles for distribution throughout Michigan.

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Bar and restaurant operator BarFly Ventures LLC of Grand Rapids has partnered with a contract brewery in Detroit to market and distribute HopCat-branded beer, MiBiz has learned.

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Baroda-based Oronoko Iron Works Inc. hasn’t even turned two years old yet, but the company already has plans to at least double the size of its plant later this year. The reason: Strong growth in the nation’s $19.6 billion craft brewing industry has boosted demand for its material handling products, wh

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Industry watchers expect some of the same consolidation activity that’s taken the craft brewing industry by storm in recent years to spread into its agricultural supply chain, particularly for hops.

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Despite a long career in the beer distribution business, Keith Klopcic lacked expertise in making the beverages he sold to bars and retailers around the state of Michigan. So when the opportunity arose to buy Comstock Park-based Perrin Brewing Co. last year, he tapped a partner with extensive craft brewing resources who had the know-how to help him continue scaling up the business.

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While new bills seek to grow the membership of an agriculture industry council funded by licensing fees from Michigan alcoholic beverage makers, the changes still exclude one key sector and its supply chain from the group

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