Staff Directory 276895091

Kristen Leigh Painter

Reporter | Food industry
phone: 612.673.4767
Kristen Leigh Painter covers the food industry, including General Mills, Cargill and Hormel. She also writes about airlines, and previously was a business reporter for The Denver Post. She can be reached at or 612.673.4767.
Recent content from Kristen Leigh Painter
Hy-Vee is recalling its store-branded spring pasta salad possibly contaminated with Salmonella that may have sickened 20 people in Minnesota and neigh

Hy-Vee recalls pasta salad linked to illnesses in Minnesota, four other states

The grocer said the pasta salad was sold across its eight-state region, including Minnesota.
Delta planes

Delta begins push to attract more pilots in training

With a shortage looming, one of the nation's biggest airlines outlines a partnership with aviation schools and an internal program to boost qualified applicants.
People in the First Ave. Main Room networked while waiting for the Demo Day program to begin, October 11, 2017.

Nine food-related startups begin work at Farm to Fork program in St. Paul

Techstars accelerator pairs food and ag-based ventures with mentors.
Cargill hopes new pollution-control standards it is employing will lower the environmental impact of vessels like this.

Cargill Inc. raises standards for ocean-shipping industry

Cargill sets a goal to boost environmental standards.

Cargill sees profit double in fourth quarter

The company also saw its annual profit rise as nearly all of its business lines posted gains.
The new egg-based bars are the first product that Epic Provisions has made to get a full R&D and marketing push from General Mills, which bought Epic

Backed by heft of General Mills, Epic Provisions begins selling meatless protein bars

"Egg bar" is inspired by the co-founders' typical morning breakfast.
Steve Carlson, with Carlson Farms, harvest soy beans in his combine on Oct. 17, 2017, in Welch, Minn.

For Minnesota, trade war with China is all about soybeans

President of the Minnesota Farm Bureau feels like a bad dream has come true.
The Mall of America in Bloomington.

MOA parking app firm seeks retailers to promote reserved spots

With free spaces abundant, paid-parking provider reaches out for marketing help.
Delta’s Ed Bastian leads the world’s most profitable airline, with over $5 billion in earnings.

Ten years after its merger with Northwest, Delta is flying high

"I think it's been, without question, the most successful airline merger in history," chief executive Ed Bastian says.
Consumers in Minnesota brought a class-action lawsuit against the nation's largest pork producers, saying that a data services firm provided informati

Lawsuit alleges Hormel, other companies, illegally inflated pork prices

The maker of a number of Hormel-branded packaged meat products says the allegations are erroneous.
General Mills beat expectations with its latest profit and showed a sizable jump in revenue, recovering from a stumble shaped by high freight costs ov

Sales growth accelerates at General Mills; execs seek balance in new fiscal year

The food maker readjusted after putting profits ahead of sales growth for a few years.
Sun Country will begin flying more routes that are point-to-point in other cities. It is adding flights in St. Louis and Madison and building them up

Sun Country adds nearly a dozen routes, but none to MSP

The airline's new growth strategy includes adding seasonal service from Dallas-Fort Worth, St. Louis and Madison, Wis.
General Mills employees watched trained dogs jump into a pool at the Third Annual Puppy Fest at the company's Golden Valley headquarters on Friday. To

Diving puppies and ice cream: General Mills welcomes Blue Buffalo and summer

Despite near-perfect weather, not every dog wanted to go for a swim.
The venture unit of General Mill has made one of its biggest investments yet.

General Mills takes stake in probiotics specialist GoodBelly

Move seen as an effort to boost product innovation.
General Mills has started production of YQ, a yogurt that has less sugar than most Greek yogurts but the same amount of protein.

General Mills rolls out high-protein, low-sugar yogurt — and it's not Greek

YQ by Yoplait plays to the high-protein, lactose-free crowd.
A Delta Air Lines jet sits at a gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta. The airline is planning to launch nonstop flights

Delta announces nonstop flights from Twin Cities to Seoul

The move gives the Twin Cities greater access to Asia and helps Delta fortify its presence at its new Korean hub.
FILE - This Oct. 14, 2015, file photo shows the Food and Drug Administration campus in Silver Spring, Md. The FDA appears poised to reconsider terms s

Farmers push for stricter definitions of foods like meat and milk

When "meat" and "milk" aren't meat and milk, farmers push for new marketing rules.
Izzy's Ice cream

Izzy's Ice Cream will begin distribution beyond Twin Cities

A favorite in the cities since 2000, Izzy's has a deal with Sysco to extend its reach.

Dean Foods to close Thief River Falls milk plant, lay off 52 workers

The plant, which also processes milk for Land O'Lakes, will close by Oct. 15.
Sun Country employees are being asked to choose between several options for a new paint job for the airline's planes. The new designs put a greater em

Sun Country Airlines to paint its airplanes, asks employees to pick design

The Eagan-based carrier asks for input on design, ideas on modernized logo.
Seasoned, a new shop on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue, gives local food makers a space to sell their products without giving a grocer a large chunk of the

Innovation: St. Paul specialty food market tests new model

On St. Paul's Grand Avenue, a maker of Hmong meal kits has created a place for other local growers and food innovators to reach customers and, possibly, make a living from their craft
Production of ATVs in Minnesota is expected to take a hit if proposed tariffs, which are aimed at benefiting U.S. steel producers, take effect.

Tariffs will pack a punch in Minn. if trade war comes to life

As Canada and Mexico fire back against new U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, a wide range of Minnesota-made products could get hit in the retaliation.
Delta Air Lines launched its new line of uniforms for all its employees during a fashion show at MSP with designer Zac Posen & manufacturer Lands End

Delta rolls out new uniforms for workers at airports and in the air

The line of purple-hued outfits represent the first style change at Delta since 2006.
Hormel experienced record sales and profit in the second quarter, as the popularity of bacon and other refrigerated foods overcame pricing pressures a

Hormel hits record sales, profits, as bacon and lunch meats thrive

Hormel Foods Corp. is still taking a beating from America's oversupply of turkeys, but executives say the end is in sight.The Austin, Minn.-based foodmaker reported…
Sun Country will increase the number of seats on its fleet of Boeing 737s to 183, a jump from current capacity.

Sun Country remodeling eliminates first class, adds slimmer seats

The changes will boost the passenger-carrying capacity of Sun Country's planes.
Mosaic, which was based in Plymouth, is one of the world’s largest fertilizer companies with revenue exceeding $7.4 billion last year.

Mosaic leaves for Florida to cut costs, move closer to mines

The company, once part of Cargill, is a giant in the fertilizer business but employs only about 150 people in Minnesota.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, left, and Gov. Mark Dayton will be key players in what the final tax bill will look like.

For Minnesota businesses, much riding on state tax code rewrite

Businesses are watching last-minute deal making closely for winners, losers.
A logo sign outside of a facility occupied by General Mills, Inc., in St. Paul in 2015.

General Mills is spending on organic ingredients that customers can trace

Organic and natural sourcing led to a push for healthier soil.
Kite boarders skim across Bde Maka Ska in front of the Minneapolis skyline in March.

Twin Cities tourism climbed 2.5 percent to new high in 2017

More than 33 million tourists visited the region and spent $7.8 billion. The numbers do not include visitors who came to the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl since it happened in February.
JetBlue executives Marty St. George, left, and Gladstone Adderley cut a ribbon Thursday to mark the start of service at Minneapolis-St. Paul Internati

JetBlue arrives at MSP, starting with round trips to Boston

Airport officials have been trying to attract the lower-cost airline for years.

Cargill operations at Nebraska beef plant back to normal a day after walkout

The situation highlights ongoing challenges large meatpackers face in staffing slaughter and processing positions across the U.S.
Dave Blomquist ran his gloved hands through a fresh batch of Grandma Edna’s caramel corn on a cooling table at the family-owned operation in Hasting

Angie's, Grandma Edna's, Old Dutch and others pop up new snack ideas

Consumers are increasingly replacing meals with snacks as convenience continues to be an attribute shoppers value.
Cargill is closing a malting plant in North Dakota because of declining demand for the type of barley grown in Minnesota and North Dakota. This 2016 f

Craft brewers' preference for western barley leads Cargill to close N.D. malting plant

The Minnetonka-based agribusiness cited falling demand in the beer industry for six-row barley.
Sun Country Airlines said it will reimburse passengers left stranded in Mexico by two flight cancellations for their added transportation costs to get

Sun Country offers to pay extra costs for stranded passengers

After 250 passengers had to find their own way home, chief executive says Sun Country needs to find ways to "handle stresses to our system."
Sun Country didn't have a contingency for the blizzard that came right when it made its seasonal turn in flight schedules.

Sun Country says blizzard left it and its passengers in lose-lose situation

Sun Country's call-center employees camped overnight to help customers stranded in Mexico, but its planes had moved on

Minnesota beer distributor's drivers go on strike over company's desire for route changes

Distributor J.J. Taylor wants route flexibility; Teamsters say that raises safety issues.
Coastal Seafood, shown in 2010, has outgrown its Minneapolis space and is moving — along with its sister wholesale business — to roomier quarters

Coastal Seafood will expand its Minneapolis retail, wholesale, location by moving across the street

Backed by a new owner, Coastal is moving to space that's nearly 10 times larger.
The plant will produce 170 million eggs a year after the expansion. That’s double its current production.

Cargill will spend $20 million to expand egg processing site in Big Lake

Firm plans to invest $20M, double plant output for egg products as breakfast booms.
Cargill's operating earnings grew in most of its businesses over the December to February project.

Cargill's performance rose through winter, but new tax law cut into bottom line

Its animal nutrition and protein business led Cargill's business units.
The top of the Osborn370 building in St. Paul, which will house the Farm to Fork Accelerator Program

Program to help food-related startups picks St. Paul for office

The Farm to Fork Accelerator Program, run by Techstars, has leased space in downtown St. Paul's Osborn370 building on Wabasha Street.

Food company recalls canned chicken sold at Sam's Club

A southern Minnesota food manufacturer is recalling more than 96,000 pounds of canned chicken sold at Sam’s Club locations nationwide after hard plastic was found…
Customers shopped for pork at a supermarket in Beijing on Friday, the day China announced a $3 billion list of U.S. goods including pork, apples and s

China's volley in trade war may first hit hog farmers in Minnesota, Midwest

China's retaliatory moves to penalize pork, ethanol will have outsized impact in the state.
John Gibson (left), Mike Higgins and Tim McKee of the Fish Guys, which is launching Market House Meats to expand into offering cattle, chicken and por

Fish Guys Inc. expanding into cattle, chicken and pork sales

Wholesale seafood company to supply cattle, chicken, pork from Upper Midwest family farms.
Cargill sensory specialist Nisa Tharayil prepared the morning test for the 14 test subjects who each receive two sets of three numbered plates of frie

A better French fry, but will American consumers buy it?

Part 4: Many Americans remain skeptical of GMOs as scientists tout their role in improving the environmental quality, diversity and sustainability of agriculture.
Northstar Bison, one of the largest producers of 100 percent grass-fed bison, takes up to three years to raise each bison.

Part 2: Skyrocketing sales of grass-fed beef are forcing the industry to change

Part 2: Consumers looking for healthier, more environmentally friendly options are putting pressure on conventional producers.
Lily Mogler, 5, petted a piglet. Farrowing crates at Mogler Farms are larger than industry standards, a foot larger on each side, to allow sows to mov

More shoppers are demanding ethical treatment of animals

Part 3: Farmers and major food suppliers are feeling pressure from consumers to eliminate abuses.
Jack Weber drove his wheat combine on his field. The wheat doesn't bring much cash but it does improve the health of his soil.

Changing consumers igniting food revolution in Minnesota

Are you buying more organic groceries these days? You're not the only one, and our food systems are changing because of it. Demand for socially responsible options is transforming the state's grocery stores, food companies and economy

Thanksgiving travel will be busy but dry

More than 50 million people will make a road trip between Wednesday and Sunday, AAA says.
Sun Country Airlines had won the rights last year to fly from the Twin Cities to two cities in Cuba before new rules were set.

Sun Country drops plan for Cuba flights, citing politics

The local airline had rights to fly directly from MSP to Matanzas and Santa Clara, but not Havana, the country's capital.
Ken Powell will step down as board chairman of General Mills at the end of the year.

Powell's retirement will complete General Mills' chairman transition

Ken Powell, who led the food giant since 2007, will exit as board chairman at the end of the year.
A logo sign outside of a facility occupied by Cargill, Inc., in Memphis, Tennessee on February 5, 2017.

Cargill fined $10M for hiding value of swap trades

The ag giant said it also will change its customer reporting procedures after findings by CFTC. It agreed to pay the fine, but "neither admits nor denies the finding."
Hormel is buying Columbus Meats, a San Francisco-area maker of cured meats, for $850 million. The deal is Hormel's biggest.

Hormel Foods to buy deli meat maker Columbus, its largest acquisition ever

Minnesota food giant buys millennial-focused maker of artisanal deli meats for $850M.
Sun Country Airlines announced new carry-on and checked bags fees Monday — and customers will pay more to carry on than check through.

Sun Country sets bag, seat fees; carry-ons will cost the most

Passengers who book tickets for flights in the New Year will have to select between three baggage "bundles" depending on whether they want to carry-on, check or not bring luggage on a flight.
JetBlue will begin flights from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Boston's Logan Airport in May.

JetBlue says it will begin MSP-Boston flights starting in May

Airport officials say they worked for several years to persuade the low-fare carrier to enter the Twin Cities market.
Cargill is trying to raise labor standards and the traceability of its cocoa supply. File photo of cocoa production in Ivory Coast.

Cargill takes new steps to ensure integrity of cocoa supply

The giant agriculture processor is trying to halt child labor and deforestation practices on African farms.
Cargill reported a 14 percent jump in fiscal first quarter profit. File photo of a Cargill facility in Memphis.

Cargill's profit jumps 14 percent amid growth in beef and chocolate

Demand for beef helped Cargill overcome pressure on grains and other commodities.
Post Consumer Brands says General Mills is copying its display of bagged cereals.

Post sues General Mills over the look of bagged cereal displays

Firm says its bigger rival is taking advantage of its success in bagged cereals.
Conagra is buying Angie's Artisan Treats, the Mankato- and Minneapolis-based maker of Boomchickapop ready-to-eat popcorn products.

Conagra buys Boomchickapop maker Angie's Artisan Treats

A popcorn maker journeys from a Mankato garage into the hands of multinational conglomerate.
The Trix version with no artificial colors and flavors, left, was introduced two years ago. The new-old version, which will use some artificial colors

Vivid, colorful original Trix is returning to stores

General Mills is bringing back the original formulation of Trix, after creating one that didn't use artificial colors and flavors.
With Sun Country’s new CEO, Jude Bricker, at the helm, the airline is repositioning itself through a series of changes to its model.

Sun Country's bosses: We're still going to have a human touch

New fees, including one to use the overhead bin But more warm destinations for the leisure traveler
Brueggers Bagels and Caribou Coffee share retail space in St. Louis Park.

Caribou Coffee buys Bruegger's Bagels for undisclosed price

It's the latest in a series of rapid acquisitions for Caribou's parent company, JAB Holding Co., which also owns Panera Bread and retail brand Keurig Green Mountain.
Hormel’s Applegate brand is now offering an uncured bacon with no sugar in it.

Hormel's Applegate bacon goes sugar free

Applegate Naturals No Sugar Bacon will start appearing in grocery stores this month.
Sun Country Airlines new CEO Jude Bricker told employees the carrier would cut costs, add fees and seats and look to expand its network beyond relianc

Sun Country pivots to no-frills style pricing, seating on flights

Sun Country Airlines' new boss is overhauling how it operates — and customers will feel the changes, including more fees and seats, similar to Spirit Airlines, and flights beyond its Twin Cities hub.
Schwan’s Co. is taking a minority stake in Tru Shrimp Co.

Schwan's invests in large-scale shrimp operation among Minnesota cornfields

Schwan's hopes to make a splash with first big prawn farm in landlocked fields.
Muslims praying at the Islamic Center in Fort Morgan, Colo., Feb. 27, 2016. After top managers said that religious breaks would be severely curtailed,

EEOC sides with fired Muslims at Cargill meatpacking plant

The federal commission found Muslim workers were denied their rights.
John Foraker, who has led Annie's for 17 years, is stepping down.

Longtime president of Annie's organic foods John Foraker leaves to join food start-up

Foraker will leave his role at the biggest organic brand in General Mills' portfolio to pursue a new "disruptive" organic food venture.

TreeHouse Foods to close Brooklyn Park plant, idle 90

The Chicago-based foodmaker produced boxed dinners and side dishes at the site.

Cargill to buy animal feed business in southeast U.S.

The deal expands Cargill's presence in animal nutrition across southern, eastern and northeastern U.S.
General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening said his teams are positioned to take on the new consumer terrain.

General Mills' new CEO says food giant is ready to grow

Jeff Harmening, 50, steps into his new job at a time of immense challenge and change for a firm that goes back to the early days of Minneapolis.
A judge threw out a lawsuit against General Mills over its use of the word "natural" to describe oats in its Nature Valley granola bars.

Judge dismisses suit against General Mills over 'natural' oats label in granola bars

Judge found General Mills was referring to an ingredient, not the bars.
Cargill posted strong earnings gains thanks in part to growing demand for meat.

Meat fuels Cargill's surge in profits

U.S. beef consumption increased after a long decline, helping the global agribusiness giant post an 85 percent profit jump in 2017.
Sun Country planes

July 10: Sun Country names Jude Bricker as new CEO

Jude Bricker, formerly of Allegiant Air, hired after a former executive was reassigned.
Zarir Erani, shown at an April event at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, was ousted after two years as chief executive at Sun Country Airli

Sun Country Airlines CEO ousted and owner steps in

The Eagan-based airline is seeking a new president and CEO to replace Zarir Erani.
Mary Aufderheide

Paleopathology pioneer Mary Aufderheide, dead at 94, excelled in medicine and music, too

The accomplished =nurse and a professional violinist had a life defined by adventure, curiosity and an ever-expanding network of friends.
Chobani, after grabbing a major position in the U.S. yogurt market with Greek yogurt, is rolling out a traditional U.S.-style yogurt that will directl

Yogurt Wars: Chobani steps up competition with General Mills for 'classic' consumers

Yoplait's new Oui hasn't even hit store shelves yet.
Read our comment standards welcomes and encourages readers to comment and engage in substantive, mutually respectful exchanges over news topics. Commenters must follow our Terms of Use.

  1. Keep it civil and stay on topic.
  2. No profanity, vulgarity, racial slurs or personal attacks.
  3. Comments with web links are not permitted.
  4. Comments that violate the above will be removed. Repeat violators may lose their commenting privileges on

Comments will be reviewed before being published.

More from Star Tribune