Staff Directory 276895091

Kristen Leigh Painter

Reporter | Food industry
Phone: 612.673.4767
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Kristen Leigh Painter covers the food industry for the Star Tribune. She previously covered growth and development for the paper. Prior to that, Painter was a business reporter at the Denver Post, covering airlines and aerospace. She frequently writes about sustainable food production, consumer food trends and airlines.


Painter has had a diverse reporting career, interviewing dignitaries in Tokyo, rebel leaders in Sudan and slaughterhouse workers in Nebraska. She has a master's of arts in journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder and bachelor of science degree in history from the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, daughter and an energetic Labrador retriever named Luna. In her free time, Painter likes to run, read fiction and plan her family's next trip or outdoor adventure.
Recent content from Kristen Leigh Painter
Delta’s pilots and dispatchers are the only unionized groups. For years, factions within the flight attendant and ramp groups have unsuccessfully tr

Delta's growing labor clash has its roots in Minnesota's Northwest

Airline resists unions, but pilots and dispatchers are organized and some flight attendants would like to be.
Two Minnesota firms that package and distribute fruits and vegetables are being consolidated into a new company called New Harvest Foods.

Fruit cup deal: investor buys two Minnesota produce wholesalers and merges them

The combined company will employ 225 people and its corporate office will be in New Brighton.
Hormel's latest profit took a hit as it felt the impact of tariffs and recalls in the U.S. and African swine fever in China.

African swine fever ripples through pork industry, denting Hormel's profits

Disease is decimating swine in China, causing the Minn. company to raise pork prices.
Siblings Ugo and Emma Angeletti, center, reacted after General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening announced that they were the $50,000 winners of the company’

General Mills awards teens for clever ideas to reduce hunger, food waste

Siblings' plan to get more food waste used for compost earned them $50K award from General Mills program
Sales of organic foods passed $50 billion in the U.S. last year but growth is slowing.

U.S. organic sales pass $50 billion mark for first time

Sales of organic food continues to grow faster than nonorganic products, but the rate is slowing.
Delta Air Lines is combating an effort by a union and some workers to organize ramp agents and flight attendants.

Heat grows in the union debate at Delta Air Lines as senators scold CEO

Social media posts of the airline's anti-union signs trigger reaction from politicians and the union.
Pentair decided to close Urban Organics, an 87,000-square-foot indoor fish and produce farm in a former brewery in St. Paul. File photo of employee Na

Pentair closing Urban Organics, a pioneering aquaponics venture in old Schmidt Brewery

The water-filtration company said the fish and greens business didn't meet expectations.
Lab-grown steak developed by Aleph, an Israeli startup firm in which Cargill a new investing round.

Cargill invests in another company growing 'cultured meat' in a lab

The Minnesota-based agriculture processor joined a $12 million investment in an Israeli firm.

Ardent Mills to shutter four flour mills, including one in Minnesota

Joint-venture firm also closing three others in U.S.
MyPillow is cutting back production in Shakopee for a few weeks, resulting in the layoff of 120 workers, while facilities are reconfigured for a new b

MyPillow lays off 120 in Shakopee as founder retools for new venture

Production will fall for a month as the plant becomes a fulfillment center.
Delta says it will allow frequent flyers who had to stop traveling apply to get their former reward status.

Delta to let frequent fliers who stopped for life events get back old status

The new program is the most expansive by a U.S. airline to retain some of its best customers.
Global Aviation Services mechanic Bob Walker works to remove an engine strap to put on a new diesel engine he was going to install in a catering truck

How one Global Aviation fought Sun Country and another paid the price

For nearly a year now, says Gina Coleal, an executive at Global Aviation Services LLC of Eagan, "we've always had to prove that we are not the bad Global."
Cargill is recalling several types of animal feed that was distributed in Southern and Eastern states after finding it was contaminated by moldy corn.

Cargill recalls nearly 300,000 pounds of animal feed over moldy corn fears

High levels of toxin traced to animal feed produced at North Carolina plant.
Post is buying the cereal business of TreeHouse Foods.

Post Holdings to buy TreeHouse cereal business, fold into Lakeville-based unit

Post Holdings is acquiring TreeHouse Foods’ cold cereal business, expanding its private-label business. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The business will be folded into…
Ethan Brown, center, CEO of Beyond Meat, attends the Opening Bell ceremony with guests to celebrate the company’s IPO at Nasdaq, Thursday, May 2, 20

Market debut of Beyond Meat, plant-based burger maker, profits Minnesota food makers

Puris and General Mills are two beneficiaries of the best-performing stock debut this year.

TreeHouse Foods plans to close Minneapolis snack-making plant, will layoff 120 workers

The Chicago-based food maker reported a slump in snack sales during the first three months of the year.
In this Thursday, March 28, 2019, photo, a "golden giant burger" is served at a restaurant of Hotel Grand Hyatt Tokyo in Tokyo.

As alternatives to beef rise in the U.S., demand for beef is surging elsewhere

With global demand for the meat looking broader than ever, that's good news for Minnesota's food companies and ranchers.
Kernza is an intermediate wheatgrass with ancient origins that many believe holds huge potential for environmental and economic benefits.

Kernza crop failure sends General Mills unit to remake plans for new cereal

General Mills' idea for the product featuring the wheatgrass sidetracked by crop failure.
Signs sat out front at the company’s headquarters. ] ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startribune.com Cargill brokers worked the trading floor Th

Cargill promotes two senior execs, boosts leadership team to 12 for a time

Joe Stone will lead global agricultural supply chain, its hallmark business.
St. Paul Downtown Airport and other reliever airports have seen a surge in requests for private jets before the Final Four.

Private jets, charter flights about to bring thousands to Twin Cities for Final Four

Airlines and airports feel the rush as fans make last-minute plans to see their team
Drummers from a traditional Korean music troupe performed at the gate where Delta Air Lines on Monday launched round-trip service between Minneapolis-

Now boarding: Delta announces second non-stop flight to Asia from MSP

Delta celebrated the new daily route on Monday.
Richard Magnuson

Attorney Richard Magnuson, who crafted law for co-ops, dies at 93

Magnuson also was a longtime leader in the state's agricultural policy and and forever enamored of the rural environment of 20th-century America.
Cargill's sales and unit operating profits were squeezed over the winter months, but the company cut costs to lift its net profit.

Cargill's business units were squeezed in latest quarter, but profits still rose

The ongoing U.S.-China trade tensions and the outbreak of African swine fever in parts of Asia led Cargill Inc. to tighten its purse strings for…
Sun Country Airlines is suing the firm it hired to take over ramp, baggage handling and other ground services a year ago at Minneapolis-St. Paul Inter

Sun Country sues first firm it hired to take over ground services at MSP

Cost-cutting move led to complaints, flight delays.
Frozen-pizza makers at Schwan’s foods know consumers want more plant-based foods, but they can’t find a vegan cheese with the right amount of stre

Know how to make a better vegan cheese? Some Minnesota firms have money for you

Some of state's biggest firms will pitch problems to outsiders, hoping for innovation.
General Mills lifted revenue and profits in the latest quarter, helped by higher pricing.

Healthy talk is one thing, but General Mills finds people still want the sweet stuff

General Mills' third-quarter results were boosted by new products such as Fruity Lucky Charms.
With sales of conventional packaged staples lagging, food giants like Minnesota’s General Mills are on the hunt to acquire or learn from much smalle

Food corporations hunt organic, natural startups

Some organic startups are now eager to do business with giant corporations, in striking contrast to the movement's early days.

Co-founder of Organic Valley leaves the company

George Siemon helped build the co-op into a $1 billion business, but it lost money in 2017.
John Ghingo, president of Applegate Farms, the organic meats unit of Hormel Foods Corp., said the company’s “Blend Burgers” are a response to co

Applegate rolls out 'blend burgers,' as plant-based food trend muscles into meat

At organic food trade show, plant-based ingredients are influencing many new products.
General Mills committed Monday to expanding regenerative agriculture practices by 2030 on one million acres of land used to source its food ingredient

General Mills announces regenerative land-use goal: 1 million acres by 2030

General Mills promises to expand regenerative-farming principles
A Pacific white-legged shrimp

Shrimp facility reveals some difficulties of business in Minnesota

Everything was going smoothly until two days before Thanksgiving when the company, state and town met for a technical discussion about minerals in water.
A Sun Country Airlines jet takes off from Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport.

Sun Country admits cost-cutting is hurting customer service

Sun Country made many changes in 2018 that eroded its ability to find lost luggage and communicate with passengers. For months, complaints grew even though data showed it was not losing or mistakenly routing luggage more than it usually did.
Sun Country is adding Fulton to its flight menu.

Sun Country adds Fulton beer, Prairie Organic spirits to its flight menu

The Minnesota airline joins its peers in giving flight to local brands.

SunOpta fires CEO and sells corn, soybean unit to Pipeline Foods

Turbulence at organic food firm occurs even as demand rises for natural products.
A logo sign outside of a facility occupied by Cargill Animal Nutrition in Little Chute, Wis.

Cargill adopts new goals to stop erosion of forest lands for farming

"Farming and forests can — and must — coexist," its CEO says.
Hormel's latest profit tumbled by comparison to a year ago, when it benefited from a one-time gain tied to tax reform.

Hormel posts lower quarterly profit, reveals CytoSport sale price of $465 million

Austin-based food maker saw sales rise, income fall against period when it got tax relief.
General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening told investors today that the company is balancing profit and sales growth with a slightly greater emphasis on sales

General Mills underlines 2019 outlook, remains focused on sales growth

At major investment conference, the company said it must move faster with product creation.
Hormel said it is selling its Cytosport business, maker of Muscle Milk products, to Pepsico. The Austin-based protein-oriented food processor has owne

Hormel sells CytoSport, maker of Muscle Milk, to Pepsi

Maker of Muscle Milk and other sports-nutrition products had "a disappointing year" in 2018.
Delta Air Lines' $1.3 billion in annual profit-sharing includes $100 million for its Minnesota employees.

Delta announces $1.3 billion in profit sharing, second-largest payout

About $100 million in bonuses will be spread among airline's Minnesota employees.
Can a family go on vacation without a rental car? Yes, with pleasure

Can a family go on vacation without a rental car? Yes, with pleasure

Rely instead on car-sharing, ride-sharing and public transport.
Sun Country’s plan to open a second pilot base reflects its growing network outside the Twin Cities. New bases have already opened for flight attend

Sun Country eyes Portland for a new pilot base, its first beyond Twin Cities

The airline has already opened several bases for flight attendants in other cities.
Richard Knowlton, former chairman and chief executive of Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods, led the company in the 1980s, a transformative period of gr

CEO who led Hormel through turbulent strike and transformation dies at 86

Hometown executive turned meatpacker into a food company that outlasted rivals, but with a price.
Richard “Dick” Ames, founder of Burnsville-based Ames Construction, died Wednesday at the age of 89.

Dick Ames, founder of Ames Construction, backer of Burnsville and Gophers, dies at 89

After farming and learning road construction, Ames bought a bulldozer and built a $1 billion business.
Rachael Vegas, chief merchant for Brandless, said the company creates its own foods and products, while giving them a shared look and pricing.

How Brandless walks a tightrope as it rises in online retail

California-based startup is relying on its Minnesota product team to fight "generic" perception.
General Mills is recalling about 100,000 five-pound bags of unbleached Gold Medal flour on concerns of salmonella contamination.

General Mills recalls some Gold Medal flour over salmonella concerns

The recall affects about 100,000 five-pound bags produced at a mill in Kansas City.
Rachael Vegas, chief merchant of Brandless, said the online retailer will remain focused on pricing in multiples of three because it brings simplicity

Fast-growing Brandless adds baby, pet products, moves beyond $3 online pricing

Venture into baby, pet merchandise marks biggest expansion for online retailer Brandless.
Cargill said it will spend at least $200 million to expand its operations in Pakistan.

Cargill plans $200M expansion in Pakistan, with focus on poultry and dairy

Cargill will also start grain trading and add other operations in Pakistan.
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Why airline prices fluctuate and how to make it work to your advantage

Follow these tips to improve your odds of getting the lowest fare.
Workers at a General Mills plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, voted to unionize this week.

Workers at General Mills plant in Iowa vote to unionize

Seeing small benefits erode, workers decided they needed to deal with General Mills as a group.
The rate of mishandled baggage is lower than ever.

Airlines have gotten better at tracking your bag

The odds of a lost bag have gotten significantly smaller, but there's still room for improvement.
A conveyor belt malfunction on Christmas Eve meant bags were left behind for hundreds of passengers on flights from Terminal 2 at Minneapolis-St. Paul

MSP Airport, Sun Country make changes after Christmas Eve baggage mess

Airline called Dec. 24 glitch a "huge problem for us."
With investors’ money on the line, Tru Shrimp couldn’t afford to wait for the regulatory issue to be resolved, said CEO Mike Ziebell, above.

Tru Shrimp decision to build 'harbor' in S.D was a 'gut shot' to Luverne

Company cited a Minn. regulation, but S.D. financing may have played role.
Sun Country CEO Jude Bricker, announced the airline's addition of eight new routes from MSP and 11 new routes at other U.S. airports.

Sun Country rolls out most new routes ever; 8 of them from MSP

The new routes from MSP include an initial one-way fare of $49 to Chicago. The Eagan-based carrier is also adding new routes from other cities where it believes travelers face high fares.
Cargill's net profit fell 20 percent and operating earnings 10 percent in the September-through-November quarter as trade volatility, the plunging sto

Cargill profit falls 20 percent in a swirl of changing food, trade and energy trends

Slowdown in hog sales, low ethanol prices contributed to 20 percent earnings drop for the second quarter.
Minnesota will get $9.3 million of a $575 million settlement by Wells Fargo with attorneys general in 50 states over the unauthorized accounts scandal

Minnesota to get $9.3M from Wells Fargo in fake-account settlement

Wells Fargo agreed to pay $575 million to settle the investigation and allegations brought by attorneys general from all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
DGS workers often perform similar job duties as the airline’s mainline staff, like boarding passengers and loading planes.

Workers at Delta subsidiary protest benefits lost in sale

Sale of Delta subsidiary would strip flying privileges from front-facing airport workers.
A farmer showed off dried barley before it is malted.

After nearly 40 years, big-time brewery supplier Cargill exits malt business

Less six-row barley being used to make key beer ingredient, ending 39-year run.
General Mills saw its second-quarter profit fall more than 20 percent from a year ago, but it still beat Wall Street expectations.

General Mills reports lackluster North America retail sales on its second quarter results

The maker of Cheerios struggles to jump-start its domestic food business.
A Delta Airlines jet takes off from Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport MSP.

Delta relaunching nonstop service between MSP and Mexico City

It marks the airline's third announcement of a new international destination from the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport this year
Sun Country unveiled the new look for its fleet of Boeing 737s in a hangar at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport earlier this week. The compan

With $5.4M loan, Sun Country moves closer to hangar-to-office makeover

Sun Country will save about $9,000 a month on an airport lease by moving its HQ there from Eagan.
Jude Bricker, chief executive of Sun Country Airlines, stood beside the company’s first purchased airplane on Tuesday at Minneapolis-St. Paul Intern

Sun Country unveils first of a fleet it plans to own

The airline is building a fleet of planes that it owns rather than leases.
A scene from Pillsbury’s latest ad campaign shows a mother and daughter baking cinnamon rolls. In some theaters where the ad runs, the company will

Not so subliminal: Pillsbury cinnamon roll smells to be pumped into movie theaters

General Mills revives experience of smelling what's on the screen.
Sun Country Airlines is looking to convert a hangar on the west side of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport into its headquarters office.

Sun Country wants to move HQ from Eagan into MSP hangar

The project would require reconfiguring the hangar building, turning some cavernous space currently used to shelter airplanes into space suitable for office work.
St. Cloud-based Coborn's is buying Hornbacher's stores in Fargo and Moorhead from Supervalu. The deal is a step in a divestiture of Supervalu's retail

Coborn's will buy most Hornbacher's stores as Supervalu's new owner begins making grocery deals

UNFI hopes to sell most of Supervalu's retailers to grocery chains that will continue to use Supervalu as their wholesale supplier.

Cargill plans $70M investment in Thai seafood, poultry business

Minnetonka-based firm is aiming to meet demand for protein in Asia.
Wildscape protein bowls are produced by a unit of Nestle, though its affiliation with the food giant is not on the packaging.

Big food companies launch 'stealth small brands' to lure consumers

More major companies are marketing to look small. Is it deception, or connection?
Hormel reported a record profit for the last quarter of its fiscal year despite in the results of its Jennie-O turkey business.

Hormel improves on fourth-quarter profit, still waits for turnaround on turkey

The Austin-based foodmaker reported solid profit growth, but Jennie-O is still struggling.
Brian Sikes

Minnetonka-based Cargill names new head of its largest business

As Todd Hall retires, he will take over the company's largest business.
This combination of images provided by Hormel on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018 shows packaging for four types of Jennie-O ground raw turkey with a P190 design

Jennie-O recalls some ground turkey after salmonella report

The recalled Jennie-O product was produced on Sept. 11 and shipped to 23 states, including Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Schwan's CEO Dimitrios Smyrnios, shown in 2017, will continue to lead Schwan's day-to-day operations.

Schwan's sold to S. Korean firm in $1.8B deal

The Schwan family, descendants of founder Marvin Schwan who started the company in Marshall, Minn., in 1952, will still have 20 percent, and own and run home delivery service.
An outbreak of a virulent drug-resistant Salmonella in the U.S turkey supply began a year ago and has sickened about 160 people. But it has moved slow

Nov. 14: Salmonella outbreak in raw turkey expands nationwide

Minnesota has reported 17 cases, the most of any state. With Thanksgiving a week away, federal officials aren't telling consumers to stop eating turkey, but they are stressing the importance of proper handling and cooking techniques.
Jennie-O will let consumers know where their turkeys were raised with new packaging info. File photo of a turkey farm near Willmar that supplies Horme

It's now possible to know down to the farm where your turkey comes from

Foodies used to pay more for turkeys with a back story. Now, more birds are getting one.Jennie-O Turkey Store, a subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corp.…
The family farm of Ken Smotherman, from near Waco, Texas, is part of the Cargill program that allows consumers to trace the origins of their holiday t

Cargill offers more traceable turkeys for Thanksgiving dinners

Its Honeysuckle White brand will have turkeys that can be traced in stores in 30 U.S. states.
mug

Sister Joan McGinty, who led a ministry for women who escaped torture, dies at 87

For Sister Joan McGinty, dedicating her life to God also meant dedicating her life to the vulnerable, whether in her role as an elementary teacher…
Marcel Smits, who has been Cargill’s chief financial officer, will become head of the company’s Asia Pacific operations.

Major executive shuffle at Cargill: Dines appointed CFO as Smits heads to Asia

David Dines has been appointed Cargill Inc.'s new chief financial officer and Marcel Smits, who currently fills that role, will step into a new position…
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