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
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…
Delta and Northwest airlines formally merged 10 years ago today. Delta commemorated the anniversary with parties in Atlanta and Minneapolis. File phot

Northwest and Delta 10 years on: lots of profit, lots of flights at MSP

Ten years after merging with Northwest, the airline is thriving while keeping its promises.
Cargill Inc., one of the nation’s largest producers of beef, has developed a robotic cattle driver used to herd the large mammals from the pen to pr

Cargill robot moves cattle herds with less stress, more safety

The $40,000, three-wheeled machine is less erratic than people are in front of animals.
Cargill and three other large food trading companies are working together to update the century-old system of records for the movement of food and ing

Cargill, food-trading rivals announce joint effort to modernize trade records

ABCDs envision a unified system to replace wildly inefficient paper trail.
A Delta Air Lines jet sits at a gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta.

Plastic straws, stir sticks are out on Delta flights and at Sky Clubs

Airline plans to nix other single-use plastics on its flights and in airport clubs.

Cockpit window seal problem forces Delta flight to return to MSP Airport

The flight lasted all of 15 minutes before the emergency landing.
Epic Provisions, a brand owned by General Mills, has debuted the first product to feature the science-based Land to Market Ecological Outcome Verifica

General Mills' Epic brand gets ecological outcome seal for products

The certification comes from a third-party group that monitors land management practices.
Delta is proposing a non-stop flight between MSP and Shanghai to be flown on its new fleet of Airbus A350 planes, like the one shown here. The route,

Delta proposes a nonstop flight between MSP and Shanghai

If approved, Delta's daily MSP to Shanghai route could start in 2020.
A customer chose a yogurt at Kowalski’s in south Minneapolis. Plant-based varieties are making inroads as manufacturers search for the market’s sw

As yogurt options multiply, General Mills, rivals strive to innovate

General Mills, rivals strive to innovate in search of the next big thing.
Former U.S. Bank chief executive Richard Davis, shown in a 2017 file photo, has been tapped as the next chief executive of the Make-A-Wish Foundation

Former U.S. Bank chief Richard Davis to lead Make-A-Wish

Former U.S. Bancorp CEO moving into philanthropy.
Ecolab CEO Doug Baker, front, and Cargill CEO David MacLennan joined an audience Monday night that listened to nine startup executives demonstrate new

Founders of food startup firms meet leaders of Minnesota's food giants

Innovations must keep up with shoppers' expectations.
General Mills chief executive Jeff Harmening kicks off the week with a keynote address.

Food innovators stage own startup week to promote Minnesota's winning ideas

Ag innovators, investors stage own show during Startup Week.
Jen Biswas fed daughter Penelope a Raised Real nutritional lunch as their dog Chloe waited in hopes of scoring some falling scraps.

Baby food innovators are on a roll these days

Prepared and delivered frozen, baby food pouches save households time by taking the guesswork out of meals.
A group of environmentally minded investors persuaded about one-third of General Mills’ voting shareholders to support a proposal aimed at eliminati

Nearly one-third of General Mills shareholders seek more accounting on pesticides in supply chain

A group of shareholders wants to see its removal from company's supply chain.
Cargill recalled beef processed at this plant in Fort Morgan, Colo., shown in a 2016 file photo, in two recall announcements over the past few weeks.

Some beef sold at Target, Aldi tied to E.coli at Cargill plant

Cargill and the USDA released details on the scope of distribution for Colorado plant where outbreak occurred.
Workers broke down beef carcasses at the Cargill plant in Fort Morgan, Colo., which is also linked to last month’s 25,000-pound recall.

Cargill recalls 132K pounds of beef after illnesses, 1 death likely from E. coli

The company recalled 132,600 pounds of beef, building on a 25,000-pound recall four weeks ago.
Delta Air Lines raised its fee for checking bags by $5 a bag. Such fees provided about $900 million in revenue for the airline last year.

Delta raises baggage fees to $30 for first bag, $40 for second

Delta joins rivals United and JetBlue in charging more for checking bags.
Cargill Inc. is expanding its poultry interests in Europe through the purchase of a major Polish chicken producer.

Cargill buys Konspol, sizable poultry business in Poland

The deal includes a feed mill, five farms and two processing facilities.
General Mills corporate headquarters in Golden Valley.

Unicorns work magic on General Mills cereal sales, but investors want more

The company said its organic sales, those not affected by acquisitions and sales of businesses, grew in the summer months.
Aine O'Graiofa outside her home and restaurant, with O'Brien's Castle in the background, on Inisheer, County Galway, Ireland, July 2018. Just as in th

Aer Lingus to launch nonstop flights between Dublin and MSP

The Irish capital will be the sixth nonstop destination between here and Europe.

Seneca Foods to close Rochester vegetable-canning factory

The first round of layoffs is expected in early November, the company said.
Sun Country is adding weekly wintertime routes from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Belize and St. Kitts and Nevis.

Sun Country to fly tourists from MSP to Belize, St. Kitts and Nevis

Warm-weather routes on winter Saturdays will start around holidays.

For online recipe hunters, Basketful bridges the gap between eyes and stomach

Two recipe sites have added service started by General Mills alums.
General Mills has expanded its parental leave policy.

General Mills expands its parental leave policy, adds caregivers paid time off

Parents will get extra paid weeks with their babies; caregivers also will get paid time off.
Cargill is recalling some ground beef processed at a plant in Colorado, and sent to distributors in Colorado and California, after a test showed trace

Cargill recalls some ground beef from Colorado plant after a positive E. coli test

The processor is taking back about 25,000 pounds of beef sent to grocery distributors in Colorado and California.
Hormel announced last week that it is selling its Fremont, Neb., pork processing plant to a group of farmers based in Minnesota, South Dakota and near

China's tariffs, low pork prices weigh on Hormel; company to fetch $30 million for Nebraska plant

The company met Wall Street's sales expectations but it is coping with tariffs, rising freight costs and too many turkeys.
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