Food Market brings news, talk and insight into the food business, from farms to supermarkets to restaurants. Reporters Mike Hughlett and Tom Meersman delve into the work of Minnesota’s food companies and issues such as food safety and labeling.

General Mills will pump $250 million into Tennessee plant

Posted by: Mike Hughlett Updated: April 28, 2015 - 12:46 PM

General Mills will invest $250 million to increase capacity at a Tennessee plant that makes yogurt and toaster pastries.

It’s a welcome change from General Mills’ factory-related announcements of late, which have often involved plant closings.

General Mill’s investment in its Murfreesboro, Tenn., plant, announced Tuesday, will add two product lines and create 117 new jobs.

The plant currently employs about 900 workers and produces Yoplait and General Mills Toaster Strudel, according to the Murfreesboro Daily News.

As part of a restructuring brought on by lean times in the packaged food industry, General Mills since last fall has announced plant closures in Massachusetts, California, Indiana and Ontario, Canada.

Buffalo Wild Wings Offers a Quicker Lunch

Posted by: Mike Hughlett Updated: April 20, 2015 - 12:38 PM

Buffalo Wild Wings said Monday that it’s launching “B-Dubs Fast Break,” a program aimed at diners who want a quicker lunch.

The Golden Valley-based company’s research indicated that many customers have only 30 to 40 minutes for lunch from the time they enter a restaurant until they depart.

As part of the new program, restaurant staff will immediately identify customers who have a limited lunch window, and may place a “Fast Break lunch card on their table to help ensure expedited service.

Patrons who choose the quick lunch will order from a “Pick 2” menu with three price points, and can choose from 7 entrees and 7 sides. Fast Break customers can also order snack and small portion sizes of traditional and boneless wings, which come with fries.

The “Fast Break” program is available weekdays between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at U.S. locations.

“We want our guests to know that choosing  B-dubs for lunch doesn’t mean forfeiting your afternoon in the office,” Todd Kronebusch, the company’s vice president of food and beverage, said in a press statement.

Find All Things "Minnesota Grown" in Directory

Posted by: Tom Meersman Updated: April 20, 2015 - 10:30 AM

Minnesotans looking for the nearest farmers’ market, berry patch, winery, family-friendly farm or garden center can find it in the 2015 Minnesota Grown Directory that’s just been released.

The newest version contains 1,027 listings for local foods, pick-your-own farms and Minnesota-made products, from honey and wild rice to maple syrup and cheese.

The directory is a statewide partnership between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and state producers of specialty crops and livestock. It was created 25 years ago to differentiate Minnesota-grown products from out-of-state competitors.

The directory is organized by regions to help consumers find what’s closest to them.

Specific products and farms are also listed in an alphabetical index.

It also includes five recipes and regional restaurant recommendations featured by Minnesota Cooks, an education program of the Minnesota Farmers Union.

Free printed copies of the directory can be ordered by calling Explore Minnesota Tourism (1-888-TOURISM).

The online version, and an interactive map, is available at www.minnesotagrown.com

Easter Egg Edition

Posted by: Tom Meersman Updated: April 3, 2015 - 11:51 AM

For those who need trivia about Minnesota egg production, the latest figures from USDA show that Minnesota chickens laid 259 million eggs in February, up 13 percent from February 2014.

Doing that work were 11.8 million layers. Each produced an average of 21.9 eggs that month, which of course had 28 days.

That may sound like a lot of eggs, but in fact Minnesota ranked 11th in the nation for both total egg production and “all layers on hand” in February, according to USDA.

Iowa ranked first, with flocks that produced 1.3 billion eggs that month.

The Minnesota Chicken and Egg Association of Minnesota estimates on its website that caring for laying hens and producing eggs employs more than 2,900 people in Minnesota, and egg production is valued at nearly $168 million annually.

Some of the larger egg farms and production companies include Sparboe, Michael Foods Egg Products, Rembrandt Foods, Land O’Lakes, Cargill Kitchen Solutions, Mendelson Egg Company, Baer Brothers and Luoma Egg Ranch.

Fast-food workers to rally on April 15 for $15 an hour

Posted by: Mike Hughlett Updated: March 31, 2015 - 3:06 PM

Twin Cities workers and labor activists expect to be part of a nationwide protest April 15 focusing on low-paid jobs.

Worker activist group CTUL said Tuesday that janitors and fast-food, airport and home health care workers will be among those participating in the event.

CTUL, which stands for Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha, organizes workers, though it’s not a union that negotiates contracts. It is closely aligned with the Service Employees International Union, the nation’s largest labor union.

The event is scheduled to be part of “Fight for $15,” a national movement to raise pay for low-wage workers to $15 an hour.  Strikes and rallies are planned nationally for the day.

 College students are expected to join the rally for the first time since a similar event aimed at fast-food workers occurred in November 2012, CTUL said.

Workers, activists and students plan to rally at the University of Minnesota and then march to the Dinkytown McDonald’s.

Gold'n Plump to expand in Cold Spring

Posted by: Mike Hughlett Updated: March 30, 2015 - 12:45 PM

GNP, maker of Gold’n Plump chicken, said Monday it plans to expand its Cold Spring operation, a project that could eventualy increase capacity by one-third.

The first phase of the expansion, which began earlier this month, is expected to cost $35 million and includes a building addition and new equipment.

Plans for the expansion’s second phase, which would also include a building addition and new equipment, are still in development.

 If both phases are completed, annual production will rise by an estimated 33 percent, which equates to 88 million more pounds of processed chicken, GNP says.

St. Cloud-based GNP did $452 million in sales last year, a 13 percent increase over 2013. GNP was purchased in 2013 by southern Illinois-based The Maschhoffs LLC, a large hog producer that bought GNP to diversify into poultry.

The expansion shows the commitment of Maschhoffs and GNP into investing in the company’s growth, GNP President Steve Jurek said in a press statement.

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