May/June Michigan Food News

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President’s Message

Your success is at the heart of our Buy Nearby campaign william j. hallan

MRA President and Chief Executive Officer

Welcome to the Made in Michigan issue of the Michigan Food News. This issue ties in perfectly with MRA’s Buy Nearby campaign, where we educate consumers about the critical impact their shopping dollars have on local businesses and Michigan’s economy, prompting them to support Michigan products and Michigan retailers.

From that original study we found that Michiganders sent $18.5 billion out of state in 2017. That’s money that could have made a difference in creating jobs and boosting our communities’ vibrancy. Our goal is to have the updated data this July. We’re eager to share it with everyone to strengthen our message and prompt more people to keep their money in the Mitten.

The face of our campaign is our mascot, Buy Nearby Guy, who travels to parades, festivals, business celebrations and other events to generate excitement for shopping local. The campaign runs throughout the year, culminating the first weekend of every October with a statewide Buy Nearby Weekend event. Last year, the pandemic forced us to alter our approach to the campaign, sidelining our mascot and scaling down the celebration. This year we expect to be back in full swing. In the campaign’s eight-year history, we’ve seen firsthand how well Buy Nearby Guy and Buy Nearby events resonate with Michiganders. We love spreading a positive message that gets people excited to get out and shop local, and we look forward to what, I’m hoping, will be the best year yet!

A recent Nielsen consumer sentiment survey found that 55% of Americans age 18 and older expect to get back to their normal routines this year. With people looking for normalcy after more than a year of fluctuating pandemic-related restrictions, this year’s Oct. 1-3 Buy Nearby Weekend should be a lot of fun as well as impactful. We hope it brings increased sales for Michigan retailers. We’re committed to helping every MRA member succeed, and that mission is at the heart of our Buy Nearby campaign.

Buy Nearby Guy will once again be on the road this summer sharing his love of local. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as he participates in events across the state. If you’d like to schedule him for an event, see We recently commissioned an update to our 2018 study that assessed how shopping online with out-of-state retailers hurts Michigan’s businesses and economy. With so much e-commerce activity occurring during the pandemic, we wanted to update our findings to further demonstrate the importance of shopping local.

While we’re looking ahead, I want to share our tentative plans to hold MRA’s annual Legislative Reception this October. This fantastic event is typically held in April; however, we’re postponing it with the hope that in-person gatherings will be underway this fall. Please stay tuned for more information about Buy Nearby and the Legislative Reception in the coming months.

Michigan Grocers Division Advisory Board William J. Hallan, President Michigan Retailers Association

Rachel Hurst Kroger Company of Michigan

DJ Oleson Oleson’s Food Stores

Craig Diepenhorst H.T. Hackney

John Leppink Leppink’s Food Centers

Don Symonds Lipari Foods

Jim Gohsman SpartanNash

Bryan Neiman Neiman’s Family Market

Thom Welch Hollywood Markets

Michigan Grocers is a division of the Michigan Retailers Association

William J. Hallan Publisher Lisa J. Reibsome Editor/Layout & Design/Ad Sales (517) 449-2256; Publisher does not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers in business competition. © MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS 2021 MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

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n a g i h Mic

Twenty years ago, I created my first Made in Michigan issue of the Michigan Food News, two months into my job as editor. That May 2001 issue featured the state’s new Select Michigan program, which was designed to help consumers recognize Michigan grown and processed food and agricultural products at the retail level.

and other fresh fruits to asparagus, bell peppers and other fresh vegetables, as well as livestock including dairy products and eggs; specialty products such as honey, jams/jellies, maple syrup and soy candles; along with Michigan beer and wine. There were also articles about great Michigan brands, such as Better Made Snack Foods and Koegel Meats, that are made with local products.

Eight year’s later, the Select Michigan program was eliminated due to state budget cuts. During its time, however, the program did a great job proving that there’s power in identifying which products are grown, processed or produced locally. In the program’s first year, the state reports that sales of local products increased by 111%. A 2009 evaluation found that sales continued to increase by 5 to 20% annually throughout the life of the program.

That brings us to 2021, where we’re more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and the love of local continues to grow. In fact, several of the many studies about the pandemic’s impact on grocery shopping note that the pandemic has, in fact, supercharged peoples’ preference for local.

Inspired by these results, grocers moved forward — creating or strengthening their own programs to promote locally grown and Michigan-made products. Over the years, the Made in Michigan issue highlighted many of these grocer-led programs across the state. We’ve also featured several of Michigan’s more than 300 commercial commodities from apples, cherries

Survey Says ... Two reports from FMI — the Food Industry Association underscore today’s thriving Buy Local movement. First, FMI’s “Food Retailing Industry Speaks” found that, in 2019, grocers showcased local products to build competitive advantages. In fact, that was the second most common strategy, with 86% of grocers saying they used the product differentiating strategy of “offering a local assortment throughout the store.” continued on page 6


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Made in Michigan continued from page 5

During the pandemic, this became the most common strategy. When asked in June 2020 which strategies grocers used to build competitive advantages, “offering a local assortment throughout the store” was the top response. Second, FMI’s just-released report, “The Power of Produce 2021,” found that “locally grown” and “seasonal” are the top attributes people look for when purchasing produce. In addition, these attributes have cross-generational interest. “Boomers show high interest in produce grown in the USA,” the report says. “Interest in organic remains highest among Millennials. Gen Z over indexes for fair wage grown and hydroponic/greenhouse grown produce.”

stores into the future. He listed one trend as “local and trust,” explaining that having a local assortment that is hyper-relevant to the community is key to success. “We really believe that local will continue to play a very important role,” Holt said. “For us to focus on local, you’ll see retailers forming partnerships with local farms and restaurants to drive consumer engagements or building relationships with local producers and highlighting [those local connections in-store].”

Real-World Approach A recent presentation at Western Michigan University’s 55th annual Food Marketing Conference detailed how a focus on local will shape the future of the largest grocer on the East Coast.

Holt reminds us that local is about more than produce. He shared an example in which Ahold’s Giant banner partnered with a local creamery and a local brewery to create a limited-edition cheese that was very popular. “In doing this, we ultimately supported a local business, and we supported Pennsylvania farmers,” Holt said. Local partnerships are “an equation where everyone wins,” he added. “We think this will be very important going into the future.”

“One outcome of the pandemic is that people have gotten much more focused on all things local,” said Ahold Delhaize USA CEO Kevin Holt. In his presentation, Holt discussed critical trends that will guide Ahold’s five banners and 2,000

Closer to home, this Made in Michigan issue features one of Grand Rapids oldest independent grocery stores — Kingma’s Market. With a local-first approach to product selection, Kingma’s is a store that’s built around local.

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Feeds West Michigan’s Appetite for Local BY LISA J. REIBSOME, EDITOR

Kingma’s Market has learned a few things about celebrating local products in its more than 80-year history. The store’s original owners, cousins Ed and Robert Kingma, grew up in the grocery business. The Kingma family opened their first store in the 1930s with a focus on produce — promoting local and Michigan-grown products long before the Buy Local movement caught fire. In 2014, Alan Hartline (pictured above), bought the store. One of his goals was to ramp up the commitment to local and source as much product as possible from as nearby as possible. Six and a half years later, it’s clear that the approach has been successful. “Today, local farmers and businesses seek us out because of our fantastic reputation for selling local products,” Hartline says during a tour of the 10,000-square-foot store. “At the peak of the produce season, 50% of everything we sell — throughout the entire store — is local.” Kingma’s uses a multitude of distributors to bring the store’s unique assortment to life, in addition to partnering with hundreds of Michigan farmers

and businesses for locally grown and Michigan-made products. “We’ve got the busiest back door in town because we get product from so many different sources,” says Hartline, who is a former SpartanNash executive. Many of Kingma’s small suppliers don’t make enough product to do business with big grocers. “That means a lot of what we sell can’t be found in other grocery stores,” he notes. “This creates an important source of differentiation and distinction for us.” Hartline knows his customers and has created a successful product mix. Kingma’s has a local-first approach to product selection. “We don’t carry many national brands because we don’t need to,” he says. “Our local products are better, and they are in demand.” Kingma’s customers look to the store for inspiration. “The store has an old-world feel. We have a more intimate setting than other grocery stores,” Hartline says. “We follow a bit of a European model in that many of our shoppers come in frequently during the week to see what’s fresh and new. That helps them decide what to make for dinner that evening.”

The store is about 4 miles northeast of downtown Grand Rapids. “We’re in an established neighborhood that also attracts young people and families,” Hartline says. “Most of our shoppers live nearby, but a lot of people discovered us during the pandemic because our extensive supplier partnerships enabled us to always have great product available.” The market is known for its cheese, carrying over 300 varieties, many of which are local. “We buy big cheese wheels to cut and vacuum seal,” Hartline says. “That allows us to offer a fantastic variety of fresh cheese at very reasonable prices.” Kingma’s staff can help shoppers pair their cheese purchases with one of the store’s 800 wine or 500 beer options. “I don’t think there is a Michigan beer we haven’t carried,” says Hartline. When it comes to fresh baked goods, Kingma’s partners with several West Michigan bakeries to supply the store. “We don’t have an in-house bakery; instead, we showcase many of the area’s great bakeries,” Hartline says. “They deliver frequently so we can sell warm pretzels, just-baked breads and pies, and other memorable items — both for special occasions and everyday eating.” continued on page 8 MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

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Kingma’s Market continued from page 7

Kingma’s makes salads and sandwiches fresh each day. “Our grab and go has never been stronger,” Hartline says. “Today’s consumers want healthy and convenient, and our deli items feature local, fresh, healthy, delicious ingredients.” Kingma’s is known for many one-of-a-kind features including this tall wall of over 400 different snacks. “This is an area where we’ve added more healthy options, including roasted cashews and trail mixes from Ferris Coffee & Nut Company in Grand Rapids,” Hartline says. “We also customize the product mix to celebrate holidays throughout the year.”

The store only carries one private label item — Kingma’s Market salsa, made with 100% all-natural Michigan vegetables. “I sampled about 30 recipes before finding one worthy of our name,” Hartline says. “Now, people come in just to buy our salsa.” 8 MAY/JUNE 2021


Kingma’s garden center adds 5,000 square feet to the store. “Spring at Kingma’s is a big event,” Hartline says. “With thousands of flats and hanging baskets, we’re a destination.” The garden center is also popular in the fall. “We get about 800 giant mums in stock, followed by fresh-cut local trees, wreathes and more,” he adds.

For many people, the butcher shop is the reason to shop at Kingma’s. “Our meat is always fresh and local, never frozen,” Hartline says. “And our meat cutters are here to serve. We can custom cut and package our products however our shoppers need them. For example, a guest can buy 10 pounds of ground chuck and have the butcher package some for immediate use and the rest to freeze. This has been especially helpful to people during the pandemic.” The butcher shop makes lunch meats, sausages, ham, jerky and more. “We have longstanding relationships with local meat, poultry and pork farms, and we’re the only store I know to buy hanging sides of beef and process them in-house,” he adds.

Kingma’s is typically the first store in West Michigan to offer LaCroix’s new flavors. “Without the corporate structure of grocery chains, we can be nimble,” Hartline explains. “When LaCroix launched three new flavors a few months ago, I was able to immediately say that we’d carry them. Within three days, we sold a pallet of each new flavor.”

“The product is the star of the show at Kingma’s,” says Hartline when asked about the store’s aesthetic. “Our products are chosen for their quality ingredients and exceptional taste, with a focus on the best Michigan has to offer.” The store has fresh fruits and vegetables direct from trusted local farmers. “Our daily deliveries, sometimes straight from the field, give our customers the chance to truly be farm to table,” Hartline says.

The spring crop of fresh Michigan maple syrup just arrived from the Upper Peninsula. “Fresh syrup is high in antioxidants, zinc, magnesium, calcium and potassium,” Hartline says. “This is an in-demand item.”

What’s next for Kingma’s? “We are in the process of converting a backroom into a coffee shop that will have its own entrance and outside seating,” Hartline shares. Kingma’s partnered with a Grand Rapids coffee shop, The Sparrows, to provide its shoppers an inviting space and great coffee. “There isn’t a coffee shop within 3 miles of us, so the community is really excited about this shop,” Hartline says. “We’re always looking for ways to best serve the community.” MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

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Paramount expands capacity to produce single serve cups Longtime association member Paramount Roasters has been roasting coffee in Michigan for 86 years. From both a branded and private-label perspective, Paramount provides products and services for all facets of the coffee industry including grocery and specialty retailers.

As part of its 75th anniversary, which was Aug. 1, 2010, Paramount introduced a line of single-serve cups, which sold well. At the time, according to the National Coffee Association (NCA), 1 in 14 U.S. adults reported that they drank coffee made in a single-cup brewer. Five years later, the NCA found that 1 in 5 U.S. adults used a single-cup brewer. Today, NCA reports that single-serve machine use is up 50% since 2015. To keep up with demand, Paramount recently invested in a multi-million dollar project to add a single-serve cup machine to their facility, increasing production to better serve grocers and other outlets. “We don’t see the demand for single-serve letting up any time soon,” says Paramount Sales Executive Kara Miencier. “With the convenience, price point and array of offerings in the market, customers continue to seek this format, and we’re responsive to that.” Paramount products are carried in grocery stores all across Michigan. The company offers a variety of brands at various

price points as well as seasonal and holiday lines in on-trend categories such as single origin, custom blends, certified organic and fair trade certified. The company also has years of experience in the private label process. “Private label brands have never been more popular,” says Miencier. “And as more shoppers turn to store brands in their product selection, it’s essential that grocers have a partner who understands their need for quality, consistency, traceability and pricing. We can help grocers develop a profitable coffee program.” Joining Michigan Grocers Association in 1991, Paramount has supported the association for 30 years. The company is led by Chairman and CEO Angelo Oricchio and President and COO Steve Morris. The sales team is led by Vice President of Sales Rich Schaasfma, assisted by Miencier. “The entire team is passionate about importing, roasting, packaging and distributing quality coffee,” says Miencier. “We’re certain our latest investment to grow our single-serve capacity will continue to grow our business.”

Better Made Snack Foods CEO Cipriano passes away Salvatore “Sam” Cipriano, CEO of Better Made Snack Foods, died on April 13, 2021, from heart failure at age 80. He was the second generation to lead Better Made Snack Foods, serving as CEO for 18 years. His father, Peter Cipriano, started the

company with business partner Cross Moceri in 1930. It was originally named Cross and Peters Co., but sold chips under a brand name that reflected the company’s goal of making a better potato chip: Better Made. Sam told the Michigan Food News in 2007, “Our goal is not to be the biggest, it’s to be the best.” He said that there used to be more than 20 potato chip manufacturers in Detroit, but only Better Made survived. He attributed the company’s longevity to the premium quality of its products and its effective distribution system. The company only uses Michigan potatoes. “Good managers and loyal employees also got us to where we are today,” he said. A Detroit native, Sam grew up in Grosse Pointe. He attended Austin High School and the Michigan Business Institute. Before starting work at Better Made in the 1980s, he worked for Ford Motor Co. His father passed away in 1981; Moceri died in 1984, and company ownership passed to their families. In 2003, the Cipriano family bought out the Moceri family’s interest and named Sam company president and CEO.

Better Made Snack Foods CEO and board member Sam Cipriano, and his sister, retail store manager and board member Catherine Gusmano, display proclamations from Detroit and the state of Michigan celebrating Better Made’s 90-year anniversary in 2020.

Funeral arrangements are not yet set. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the American Heart Association. Those wishing to share a memory or leave condolences can do so on Better Made’s Facebook page, MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

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Herbruck’s installs solar array at Green Meadow Organics facility MRA member Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch partnered with CMS Energy to build an approximately 2-megawatt solar array at its Green Meadow Organics facility in Saranac, which is about 30 miles east of Grand Rapids.

Spread over eight acres, the solar array will produce enough electricity to meet about a quarter of the power demand for the facility, which was launched in 2008 by Herbruck’s to produce premium organic, cage-free eggs and all-natural fertilizers. “The solar project aims to lessen our impact on the environment by cutting down on our fossil fuel usage,” says Cody Herbruck, senior manager of capital expenses at Herbruck’s — a fourth-gen-

eration family farm, which is Michigan’s largest egg producer. “We are excited to be able to source our energy in a sustainable way and bring this green energy to a rural area in Michigan.” Herbruck’s is assessing using solar power at its other facilities as part of larger sustainability efforts, which include using bird litter to make fertilizer, repurposing eggshells into feed as a calcium source, responsible waste disposal and wastewater management practices, and using environmentally friendly product packaging.

Kroger invests in Michigan with new $20 million St. Clair Shores store

After a little over a year of construction, a new 73,518-squarefoot Kroger store opened on April 21 with a ribbon cutting and grand opening celebration. Kroger President Ken DeLuca (far right) was present for the opening. The new store, located in St. Clair Shores, represents a $20 million investment in Michigan. It brings more than 270 jobs to the St. Clair Shores community. “We feel this will be such a great asset for our St. Clair Shores neighbors,” says Keith Goy, St. Clair Shores Kroger store manager, pictured above cutting the ribbon. “And we’re thrilled to share new products and conveniences with our community.” The store features extra-wide aisles, a sushi kiosk, an in-store Starbucks and an in-store pharmacy, grab and go deli favorites, plus Kroger’s online ordering and parking lot pickup service. In addition, Kroger’s focus on locally grown and produced foods is highlighted throughout the store, often by “Discover Local” displays and signs. Local products showcased during

the grand opening include made-in-Detroit Aunt Nee’s tortilla chips, Fraser teas from Livonia, Michigan pantry items from Ann Arbor’s White Lotus Farms, as well as a large variety of authentic Lebanese products Including hummus, spinach pie and grape leaves from Steve’s Mediterranean Chef in Madison Heights. MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

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MRA presents Centennial Retailer award to Westlund’s Apple Market MRA President and CEO Bill Hallan recognized Westlund’s Apple Market as a Michigan Centennial Retailer. Under the ownership of two families, the store has managed to ride out a century of ups and downs, continuing to serve the Lansing community for 100 years. Owner Tim Westlund accepted the award, making Westlund’s the 94th retailer to be honored since MRA launched the program in 2000. The award presentation was part of a news spot that aired on a local TV station. Masks were briefly removed for broadcast, as permitted under the MDHHS face covering exception. MRA’s Member Recognition page, member-benefits/member-recognition, also lists the previous 93 retailers to receive the honor and provides a form where you can nominate an eligible retailer to receive the designation. To see photos and learn more about Westlund’s Apple Market, see the March/April issue of the Michigan Food News.

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Government Affairs Update

Be wary of permanent COVID workplace safety rules By Amy Drumm, MRA Vice President, Government Affairs By now, employers are familiar with the long list of COVID-19 workplace safety requirements issued last October under the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (MIOSHA) emergency rules and the subsequent investigations, fines and press releases regarding those found to be out of compliance. What employers may not realize is that the emergency rules can only be in place for a maximum of one year. This has prompted the state to draft a set of permanent rules. Permanent rules must go through a lengthy, formal rule-making process. And any changes to those permanent rules must also go through the same lengthy, formal process, which can take 12-18 months. Recently, MRA served as a technical advisor on an advisory committee to make recommendations regarding the permanent rules. Unfortunately, when MIOSHA filed its draft of the permanent rules, only a few of the advisory committee’s changes and suggestions were included. Many of MRA’s and the business community’s recommendations were rejected. The majority of the rejected recommendations would have added flexibility to the rules by tying them to CDC guidance and also to the rescission or expiration of epidemic orders issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. That would have meant, for example, that when MDHHS rescinds its Gatherings and Face Mask Order, its restrictions and requirements would no longer be part of the permanent rules. However, MIOSHA did not take this recommendation. It’s concerning that the rules lack flexibility, do not have adjustments for vaccinated individuals and do not include a rescission date. Even as the state hits the recently announced vaccine targets under the “MI Vacc to Normal” plan, the MIOSHA rules will remain the same. That means they will potentially put workers in jeopardy by still requiring them to enforce mask mandates even if MDHHS ends the Gatherings and Face Mask Order. The next step in making the draft rules permanent is a public hearing that will be held virtually at 9 a.m. on May 26. MRA encourages members to consider submitting comments and/or speaking at the hearing. If you’re interested in doing so, please contact me at Legislative Round-Up The legislature has been busy this spring, especially on the regulatory front. Here are some of the policy changes MRA is watching closely. You can find updates on these bills and others on our bill tracker located at the top of the right column on

• Bottle deposit escheats funds: The House voted to modify the distribution of the bottle deposit escheats funds for 2020 and 2021 to reimburse distributors per container. House Bills 4443-4444 were amended to hold the first $50M in the escheats fund harmless and add in a sunset after FY 2021. Treasury recently announced that the state collected $108M in unclaimed deposits for 2020. •C anned cocktails: The House and Senate have moved quickly on bills that would allow canned cocktails to be sold similar to wine. Senate Bills 141-144 would also change the definitions of direct shippers and “qualified retailer” to one that is open to the public for face-to-face sales, holds a retail food establishment license or extended retail food establishment license, and makes at least 25% of its annual sales in person (this would not apply to retailers under 15,000 square feet). • Cigar tax cap: The House Tax Policy Committee reported out HB 4485, legislation to eliminate the current Oct. 31, 2021, sunset capping cigar taxes. It would keep the taxes capped at no more than 50 cents per individual cigar. MRA supports the bill. • Community recycling programs: The House approved an eight-bill package (HB 4454-4461) that would amend Part 115 (Solid Waste Management) of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. It includes updates to improve Michigan’s solid waste, composting and recycling policies, and would require local governments to implement curbside recycling programs or recycling drop-off centers. MRA supports the bills that create an environment to move us away from the burdensome bottle deposit law. • Healthcare reforms including PBM changes: The House reported the 15-bill healthcare reform package (HB 4346-4358) that would require additional transparency from drug manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) as well as ending restrictions that limit what information pharmacists can give patients about prices. HB 4348, which MRA supports, would ensure pharmacies be adequately and predictably reimbursed by PBMs for the services they provide through greater transparency and state registration, prohibiting spread pricing and retroactive fees. MRA is also encouraging the Senate to add provisions around MAC pricing appeals and a third-party review process for audit or other appeals. • Prescriptions written by out-of-state mid-level prescribers: SB 166 is well on its way to completion, having passed the Senate and been heard by the House Health Policy Committee. The legislation, which MRA supports, would allow pharmacists to fill prescriptions written by out-of-state mid-level prescribers. continued on page 17 MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

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Celebrating Michigan’s agricultural diversity and economic contributions By Tim Slawinski

Food and Dairy Division Director, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

May marks the beginning of both the planting and harvesting seasons in Michigan with our farmers rushing to till and plant fields of row crops and vegetables, and Michigan’s earliest crops such as asparagus, mushrooms and hoophouse lettuces making their way to market. This is the perfect time to recognize and celebrate the diversity and abundance provided by Michigan’s farms and our growing food and agriculture sector. Critical to the Economy Thanks to our state’s rich and diverse soils, ongoing research at Michigan’s world-class universities, and our proximity to the Great Lakes providing micro-climates perfect for growing a variety of crops, Michigan is recognized across the world for its diverse array of food and agriculture products. Our farmers provide consumers with food and fiber produced on nearly 10 million acres of farmland — helping to make the food and agriculture industry one of our state’s critical economic drivers, contributing $104.7 billion in total economic activity each year and employing 17.2% of the state’s workforce (approximately 805,000 people). Ranked First for 12 Crops Specialty crop farmers have dedicated their lives to producing the high-quality, nutritious foods and products we enjoy every day. Specialty crops include: l fruits l vegetables l tree nuts l dried fruits l horticulture/nursery crops including floriculture In 2020, Michigan ranked No. 1 nationally in the production of 12 different commodities: (1) dry black beans (2) dry cranberry beans (3) tart cherries (4) hostas (5) begonias (6) impatiens (7) petunias (8) asparagus (9) cucumbers (10) dry navy beans (11) squash (12) dry small red beans.

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Michigan ranks among the top five states for more than 25 specialty crops. Diverse Food Products Michigan’s agricultural diversity has led to a booming food processing and specialty food production industry. There are approximately 3,381 food processing facilities and food warehouses in Michigan, including 117 licensed dairy processing facilities. With readily available raw ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, sugar, flour, hops, wine grapes, wheat and more, Michigan boasts a huge variety of locally processed foods. These range from baked goods and baking mixes, to salsas, baby food, cheese and dairy products, pickles, pastas, breakfast cereals, smoked fish, wines, beers, dried fruits, meat and poultry products, and so much more. For any food product you wish to buy, there is most likely a Michigan-grown or processed version of that product for you to enjoy. Over 18,000 Food Establishments With all of these products available for consumers, the state’s licensed retail food establishments are key partners for the ongoing success of our food and agriculture sector. Michigan has approximately 18,254 MDARD licensed food establishments — food retailers, food warehouses, food processors — who support our state. Safety First MDARD is proud of its role in assuring a safe, wholesome and abundant food supply. From on-farm produce safety efforts, safe pesticide application, nursery stock inspection, environmental assurance, farmland stewardship, groundwater protection, animal safety and welfare, invasive species prevention and eradication, plus — of course — food safety and inspection efforts, MDARD is dedicated to partnering with industry and

government regulators to support our state’s food and agriculture industry from farm to fork. Michigan is also home to key players in the world of food safety, including NSF International, Neogen and the International Food Protection and Training Institute. Michigan producers recognize food safety is fundamental to the success of their businesses and have been at the forefront of food safety development. Michigan’s Bounty I hope you enjoy the bounty of Michigan’s 2021 production season. Meanwhile, here are a few more Michigan food and agriculture facts to chew on: n Exports: Michigan’s food and agriculture exports are valued at $2.16 billion (CY 2020 data). Top five countries for our exports: Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, China. n Dairy: Dairy is Michigan’s agriculture’s largest sector. It has a $15.7 billion economic impact on the state’s. Michigan’s dairy industry ranks 6th nationally in total pounds of milk produced, with a production of 11.56 billion pounds of milk in 2020. Michigan dairy farms produced more than one billion pounds of milk in January 2021, joining an elite group of five other states to hit this mark. Michigan has 440,000 dairy cows. n Apples: Michigan ranks 3rd in apple production, behind Washington and New York. Apples are one of Michigan’s largest and most valuable fruit crops. Michigan’s apple industry contributes up to $900 million to the state’s economy each year, with about 1.05 billion pounds of apples harvested each year. Fifty-five percent of all Michigan apples are processed into other products. Michigan slices more apples for pies than any other state. n Asparagus: 120 Michigan family farms harvest approximately 20 million pounds of asparagus on 9,500 acres of land. More than 40% of the crop is sold fresh in supermarkets, restaurants, farmers markets and roadside stands. Approximately 6% of the crop is frozen, canned or pickled. n Carrots: Michigan is 4th in fresh carrot production. n Cherries: Harvesting over 90,000 tons of cherries each year, Michigan is the nation’s leading producer of tart cherries. Michigan grows 70% of the nation’s tart cherries, which are used to produce baked goods, salsas, jams and jellies, and many other products. Our state also ranks 4th nationally for sweet cherry production. n Cucumbers: Michigan ranks 1st in the nation for the production of cucumbers for pickling.

n Potatoes: Michigan is the leading producer of potatoes for potato chip processing. Michigan potatoes fill one in four bags of potato chips in the U.S. Michigan ranks 8th for potato production with more than 47,000 acres dedicated to growing potatoes. n Squash: Michigan produces more squash than any other state. n Craft Beverages: Michigan’s craft beverage industry is booming. Breweries, wineries, cideries and distilleries all have roots in Michigan’s agricultural and economic history. Michigan ranks 8th in the nation for wine production, 7th in the nation for craft distilleries and 6th for craft breweries.

Government Affairs Update continued from page 15

• Service animals in training: The House Regulatory Reform Committee took testimony last month on a bill (HB 4256) that would grant service animals in training the same rights/ protections as service animals in public spaces. This means animals being trained by certain authorized agencies must be allowed in stores and cannot be removed unless they are out of control. • Tamper-proof smoke detectors: HB 4382, a reintroduction of legislation requiring that only tamper-proof smoke detectors be sold, was amended by the House to include an 18-month delay. This will allow time to sell through existing smoke detector stock. With the date change, MRA is officially neutral on the bill.

Requests for bottle deposit fund reimbursement due June 1

Michigan retailers and dealers who sell beverages in returnable containers can request compensation for a small portion of the costs to handle the empty containers. To qualify, retailers must file a Request for Bottle Deposit Fund Reimbursement Form 2196 on or before June 1, 2021. The form is available online at Reports postmarked after June 1 will not be honored. Contact the Special Taxes Division at (517) 636-0515 with questions. Payment will be based on the number of empty returnable containers handled in a calendar year. Treasury will begin issuing checks after Aug. 1.

Liquor license renewal deadline is July 30

The Michigan liquor license renewal date was extended from April 30 to July 30 this year to assist licensees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) reports that the renewal applications were mistakenly printed with an “April 2021” due date and could not be fixed before they were mailed. MLCC asks licensees to ignore the date on the applications. The deadline for renewal is July 30. Visit the MLCC website,, for details. MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

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Virtual WMU Food Marketing Conference draws more than 1,000 participants “Thriving in an Age of Uncertainty” was the theme of Western Michigan University’s 55th annual Food Marketing Conference, an event that experienced a major shift this year. The conference — which is normally held in person over two days — was fully virtual this year. The March 23-24 event had several live interactive aspects; in addition, speaker content was available to registered guests for several additional weeks. In the last few years, about 800 people attended the event. This year’s virtual conference drew more than 1,000 participants for the first time in the program’s history. “Interest in the conference was excellent, with a large portion of attendees participating in all of the live and on-demand sessions,” says Dr. Russell Zwanka, associate professor of marketTypically the conference venue corridors are buzzing with activity during ing. “Additionally, the live chats that took place between attendthe WMU Food Marketing Conference. However, this year, the control ees, presenters and students were energetic and engaging.” room (above) was the event hub. The majority of the topics focused on the future of the grocery industry as we emerge from a pandemic world. “Attendees were excited that we had more than 60 high-profile speakers from the food and CPG industries,” says Dr. Frank Gambino, professor of marketing and conference director. Providing expertise on the ever-changing consumer experience were Kevin Holt, who is CEO at Ahold Delhaize USA (see page 6 for

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more on this presentation), Meijer SVP Todd Weer, Kroger Human Resources VP Lanell Ohlinger, National Grocers Association President and CEO Greg Ferrara, and many others. Next year, planners expect to once again hold an in-person event. Mark your calendars now for WMU’s 56th annual Food Marketing Conference at Devos Place, March 22-23, 2022.

During good times, it’s easy to keep a steady hand. But when life throws curve balls like the world has never seen, those steady hands can become shaky rather quickly. At Associated Wholesale Grocers, we have thousands of examples of strong, steady hands keeping grocery stores running, true purveyors of hope for our communities. And there are thousands of steady hands at AWG supporting those ESSENTIAL pillars of communities in the 28 states we serve. We’ve been constantly tracking how our industry is changing and we’re focusing even closer on how the current situation will change things even more. We have long prided ourselves on the lowest cost of goods. But now, and in the future, our retailers need far more than that. Everything from e-commerce to merchandising, digital marketing to support as we navigate through any crisis together. We have helping, steady hands for every area of your store and have prided ourselves on being that steady hand for almost 100 years.

Make the call sooner rather than later to learn how Associated Wholesale Grocers can provide you a lower cost of goods and a real chance to compete in the marketplace today and in the future!

For a lower cost of goods PLEASE CONTACT: Keith Knight 615-290-6093 Wayne Hall 608-347-7318

Dave McKelvey 713-876-6240 Diane Guerrero 262-806-1203

Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc., 5000 Kansas Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66106

603 S. Washington Avenue, Lansing, MI 48933 (800) 366-3699

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