Staff Directory 6134711

Brooks Johnson

Food and Manufacturing Reporter | Food and Manufacturing
Phone: 612-673-4229

Brooks Johnson is a business reporter covering Minnesota’s food industry, 3M and manufacturing trends.

Raised in Fargo and educated at the University of Montana, Johnson worked at newspapers in Idaho, Washington and Duluth before joining the Star Tribune at its relaunched Duluth bureau in 2019. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and their young son and is looking for new streams to fly-fish.
Recent content from Brooks Johnson
General Mills corporate headquarters in Golden Valley.

The pandemic honeymoon is over as General Mills returns to slow-growth mode

Quarterly profits fell 18% from a year ago as inflation cools consumer spending and buying habits tilt back to pre-pandemic patterns.
Cans of classic Spam sold in Texas with an expiration date of August 2024 and lot code A08173 printed on the bottom of the can should be thrown away o

Potentially undercooked Spam reached store shelves in Texas

One lot of Spam, made by Austin, Minn.-based Hormel, sold at HEB stores is affected.
3M headquarters in Maplewood.

3M employees bribed Chinese government officials, SEC says

The case highlights the risk of loose control over foreign subsidiaries that can lead to corruption.
The snack bar business is projected to grow at a rapid clip over the next decade as snacking continues to dominate American diets.

TreeHouse Foods sells snack bar business, Lakeville plant for $63 million

John B. Sanfilippo & Son will take over the million-square-foot facility, TreeHouse Foods' only remaining manufacturing plant in Minnesota.
Winona-based Watkins claimed McCormick was misleading consumers by reducing the amount of pepper in its tins while keeping the size and price of the p

Minnesota company Watkins took on spice giant McCormick. Eight years later, it lost.

Winona-based Watkins launched the federal false advertising suit about McCormick's iconic pepper tins in 2015.
Consumers are benefiting from lower bacon prices, but it is hurting Hormel’s bottom line.

Bacon prices are down, and so is Hormel's profit

Hormel Foods sold more food but still saw sales fall this summer, reversing recent trends in packaged food sales.
3M said its Combat Arms earplugs are safe. But military veterans and active personnel have claimed they are the cause of hearing loss and tinnitus.

3M settles yearslong earplug litigation for $6B with military service members

The Combat Arms settlement ends one of the nation's largest ever mass torts.
3M’s headquarters in Maplewood, Minn.

Former employees sue 3M, alleging discrimination at South Dakota plant

Several lawsuits claim the employees were retaliated against after reporting abusive conduct to supervisors.
THC seltzers are featured on a wall in Natreum in St. Louis Park. According to an initial report from the Department of Revenue, about $6 million wort

First month of Minnesota's cannabis tax nets the state nearly $600K

The July haul is a partial snapshot of the state's hemp-derived THC gummy and drink market.
Bryan Hanson will become CEO of 3M’s health care spinoff.

3M names CEO of Zimmer Biomet to lead health care spinoff

Bryan Hanson, who will join the company in September, was previously an executive at Medtronic and Covidien.
Jon Schneider of Minneapolis said he hit the ball the furthest he ever has after trying out the virtual reality headset in the fan experience tent at

3M helped make virtual reality headsets smaller. Next step? More consumer demand

As traditional electronics sales sag, 3M hopes to benefit from expected VR growth this decade.
After 110 years, Hastings Creamery has closed following a June incident when it leaked thousands of gallons of raw milk and cream into the city’s wa

Hastings Creamery, more than a century old, closes after milk leak in city's wastewater

Regulators disconnected the creamery from the sewer system earlier this summer after the incident.
ICU Medical is closing its Oakdale plant. Pictured is its headquarters in San Clemente, Calif.

Med-tech manufacturer closing Oakdale plant, laying off 81 workers

Layoffs at the former Smiths Medical plant begin this fall and will conclude at the end of 2024.
Travelers head to TSA at Terminal 1 last year at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport contractor settles religious discrimination case

A former employee said she was not allowed to wear a skirt to her job at the airport, in accordance with her faith.
Star Tribune CEO and Publisher Steve Grove.

Star Tribune begins reorganization aimed at digital future

Steve Grove makes first sweeping changes to the media company's organization as CEO and publisher.
Woman dies following crash on I-35 near Faribault

Woman dies following crash on I-35 near Faribault

Mona Lee Bengtson, 63, collided with a truck.
1 dead, 6 injured after shooting at show at south Mpls. house

1 dead, 6 injured after shooting at show at south Mpls. house

Two gunmen reportedly fled on foot. No arrests have been made.
New York City shoplifters are targeting Spam.

Why did Spam become an international sensation?

It's just canned meat with a catchy name. But this Minnesota invention has a cultural legacy that extends across the globe — and even into our email inboxes.
The bill would legalize the possession and use of marijuana for Minnesotans 21 and older. Here, Andrew “Reefer Man” Sumner smoked during Hash Bas

What you need to know about Minnesota's marijuana legalization law

Minnesota is the 23rd state to legalize recreational cannabis. Here's a detailed look at what the new law allows — and what it won't.
Lynette Muonio of Howard Lake shopped for groceries with her children at Coborn’s in Delano last year.

Grocery prices may fall next year for inflation-weary consumers

Food inflation is expected to cool in 2024, but a lot of unknowns make for a wide range of possibilities.
Derrick Strauss, a cannabis glassware artist, enjoyed a puff on a dab rig outside First Avenue in Minneapolis on Tuesday.

Marijuana legalization marks new era for state, but will Minnesotans embrace it?

Celebrations, shrugs and hand-wringing mark the beginning of legal weed in Minnesota.
Hop pellets, or pelletized hop, are among the variety of beer ingredients and homebrewing equipment Northern Brewer sells. The retailer is closing its

Northern Brewer closing retail locations, transitions to online-only sales

The Minnesota-based homebrewing supplier is closing its retail locations in St. Paul, St. Louis Park and Milwaukee by the end of the month.
NativeCare on the Red Lake Nation is Minnesota’s first recreational cannabis dispensary.

Marijuana use and possession are now legal in Minnesota. Here's what you need to know.

Selling without a license is still a crime. Other than medical marijuana, hemp-derived products and tribal dispensaries, Minnesota now has a "gray" market.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cheerios are the first two General Mills cereals to gain a vitamin D boost following the FDA’s increase to maximum limits

General Mills doubles vitamin D in cereals since 90% of Americans don't consume enough

The FDA approved a higher limit this year for the essential nutrient in breakfast cereals.
Lift Bridge Brewing in Stillwater is embroiled in a legal battle about producing THC-infused seltzers.

Lift Bridge Brewing in legal battle about cannabis beverage production

The Stillwater brewery wants out of a contract so it can start making and selling CBD and THC seltzers.
3M corporate headquarters in Maplewood.

3M records rare quarterly loss but raises outlook following layoffs and other cuts

The company took a $10 billion hit in the second quarter to cover a recent PFAS settlement.
Cultural anthropologist Tanya Rodriguez has worked for Hormel Foods since 2007, delivering consumer insights by shopping, cooking and eating with fami

Hormel's cultural anthropologist discovers what consumers really eat and why we love Spam

Tanya Rodriguez talks to the Star Tribune about emerging flavors, AI and how she ended up looking in people's refrigerators.
“Saving” for college is better described as investing for college, and the longer money is in an investment, the better chance it has to grow in v

How to save for your kids' college education

The best advice, once your own financial house is in order: Start now.
Cory Lake, the CEO of Lake Group Insurance, who has been working with businesses that sell hemp-based cannabis products for several years now, at a cl

Marijuana market could be a boon for other industries, jobs

Not everyone who works with cannabis will be growing or selling it. There will be cannabis accountants, lawyers, insurance agents and more.
In this April 8, 2019, photo, a jar of medical marijuana was shown on the counter at Western Oregon Dispensary in Sherwood, Ore.

Red Lake Nation to open Minnesota's first recreational marijuana dispensary Aug. 1

The band's medical marijuana provider says it will start selling to recreational customers the first day it becomes legal across the state.
Finished MyPillow pallets are wrapped and stored at the manufacturing facility in Shakopee.

MyPillow selling equipment after retailers pull its products

CEO Mike Lindell says annual sales fell $100 million after several big-box retailers cut ties following his election claims.
3M corporate headquarters in Maplewood.

From massive litigation to mass layoffs, what's going on at 3M?

The Maplewood-based industrial giant is hobbled by litigation, slowing sales and a stock price cut in half over the past five years as thousands of jobs are being shed.
Man at home using air fryer to fry frozen sliced potatoes.

More American cooks use air fryers, and food companies are providing instructions

Food companies respond to still-strong consumer demand for the appliances, which are now in nearly two-thirds of U.S. households.
By a few unscientific estimates, the average Fourth of July plate in MInnesota will consist of a hot dog (or bratwurst), pasta salad and red-white-and

Hot dogs more popular than burgers in Minnesota for Fourth of July

Minnesotans prefer these foods for the red, white and blue holiday, according pre-July 4th sales and Google trends.
Mhonpaj Lee and her husband, Phanat Vang, harvested radishes at their organic farm in Hugo in 2021. Agriculture was the largest contributor to MInneso

Minnesota's economy gained speed at the start of 2023

The state's GDP growth was slightly higher than the nation's overall in the first quarter. It also grew at a faster rate than last year's pace.
File photo of the Star Tribune’s 2020 Frozen Pizza Bracket voting process.

Totino's pizza was reformulated 25 times in 26 weeks at height of pandemic

After three years of the pandemic era's topsy-turvy market conditions, General Mills is getting back to normal — including slower growth.
Cat aMewsment sells unique items for the sophisticated kitty, like this SurferCat Harness, shown Thursday in St. Paul.

Pet food prices keep rising, but pet parents keep buying

Pet owners know it's not always as simple as grabbing a cheaper bag to save money, since it takes time for animals to adjust to new food.
Shawn Triplett checks out the different strains of cannabis flower available at the Herbana dispensary in Ann Arbor, Mich. earlier this year.

Minn.'s legal marijuana sales projected to reach $1.5B by 2029

State's legal cannabis market could also serve more than 700,000 consumers annually, a new analysis shows.
Margarine was a controversial addition to American diets in the late 19th Century.

Why did Minnesota once require margarine to be dyed pink?

Once the nation's leading butter producer, Minnesota fought hard against the "abomination" of margarine.
Digital communication at work can cause friction — just as old-school jargon can. Experts say to consider your audience when talking, or typing, to

How office language, and etiquette around it, has changed

At work, as with any writing, consider your audience.
FILE-Mount Jordan Middle School students get lunch in their school’s cafeteria in Sandy, Utah in 2017. Food companies are filling in for short-staff

Food companies sell more heat-and-serve options to fill gaps in short-staffed kitchens

Precooked shortcuts are helping cafeterias amid labor challenges — and are boosting sales for Minnesota food companies.
Old El Paso stand and stuff taco shells with Old El Paso taco seasoned chicken and seen in General Mills’ Betty Crocker Kitchen, Aug. 31, 2016, in G

General Mills CEO: These five brands are key to company growth

Jeff Harmening, chief executive for the Minnesota food giant, ranked the company's brands by near-term growth potential.
China is the biggest overseas market for Hormel Foods, which has operated there for nearly 30 years.

Hormel's 'aggressive' global strategy stalls amid international speed bumps

The Minnesota-based food company recently invested more than $400 million in an Indonesian snack food company.
Minneapolis-based Seven Sundays is using upcycled oat protein — remnants from oat milk production — in a new line of cereals.

Minneapolis brand turns leftovers from oat milk production into cereal

Seven Sundays is using protein powder left behind in oat milk produced by Eden Prairie-based SunOpta.
Janet Johanson, CEO of BevSource.

The future of beverages: Robot bartenders and reusable soda bottles

Janet Johanson is CEO of BevSource, one of the nation's leading suppliers to the beverage industry.
A little planning can be the difference between treating stocks like a slot machine and building a portfolio to achieve financial goals.

How to become an investor and dabble in the stock market

Just a few bucks a day can, in the long term, help achieve financial goals. But it's not without risk.
Abby Rouster pours ice on cans of THC-infused beverages during a media preview open house Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022 at the Trail Magic Taproom Pop-Up i

Are Minnesota's THC beverages as potent as they claim?

Consumers should check test results provided by QR codes on packaging to ensure they're getting what they paid for.
Hormel headquarters in Austin, Minn.

Hormel confronts consumer resistance to continued price increases

Shoppers and retailers are balking at ongoing hikes, resulting in declining sales, but the Minnesota food producer plans more price increases anyway.
Alex Moats smokes while doing work at Hot Box Social in Hazel Park, Mich. Hot Box is the state’s first cannabis smoking lounge.

Michigan, the first Midwestern state with legal marijuana, offers lessons for Minnesota

As U.S. states have gradually approved pot's legal use, a fellow Great Lakes state says: "Learn from our mistakes."
Minneapolis-based Flagstone Foods bought Emerald Nuts for an undisclosed sum.

Minneapolis-based private-label food maker buys Emerald Nuts

The store-brand manufacturer bought the snack nuts brand from Campbell Soup Co., gaining an established brand in the snack aisle.
Sun Country flight attendants picketed for a better contract in snowy conditions Feb. 22 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport’s Terminal 2.

Sun Country flight attendants vote to reject contract offer

Union representatives for the flight attendants first reached a tentative agreement with the Minnesota-based airline in March.
Hong Sik “Peter” Park’s patent for producing calcium-fortified yogurt has been cited more than 30 times by companies including General Mills, Kr

Minnesota food science pioneer Hong Sik 'Peter' Park dies at 86

The Korean immigrant led the development of calcium-fortified yogurt, helping usher in an era of functional food ingredients.
3M headquarters in Maplewood.

3M partners with Canada firm to make materials that will remove carbon dioxide from the air

3M will increase production of Svante Technologies' carbon-removal filters.
Cannabis bill authors Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, and Sen. Lindsey Port, DFL-Burnsville, conferred before the final conference committee me

Minnesota lawmakers finish marijuana bill, votes up next

A conference committee finished merging the House and Senate bills to legalize recreational use.
Online ADA compliance lawsuits have quadrupled since 2018, according to accessibility firm AccessiBe.

Lawsuits targeting company websites for ADA violations on the rise

Digital accessibility is required by law, but less than 4% of websites fully comply, leaving most businesses exposed to litigation risk.
The 330-milliliter production line gets a test run at SunOpta’s new manufacturing plant in Midlothian, Texas, in early 2023.

Minnesota-based SunOpta's latest flex: protein shakes

The company's new plant in Texas adds the ability to produce ready-to-drink nutrition beverages.
Nalini Mehta is meeting Americans’ ever-growing hunger for snacks with Ayurvedic-inspired popped water lily seeds dubbed Yoga Pops. Here she works f

Popped water lily seed snacks? This Minnesota product leans on ancient practices

Yoga Pops, a popped water lily seed snack, is riding consumer trends to growth. Such Ayurvedic-inspired products are finding an audience in Minnesota.
Numbers for the Dow Jones Industrial Average are displayed on a screen at the New York Stock Exchange on Sept. 13, 2022. Among the 30 companies in the

Could 3M lose its spot in the prestigious Dow Jones index?

3M is the worst performer on the key stock index since 2018 and is about to spin off health care, a quarter of its revenue.
The JBS facility photographed in Worthington, Minn., on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022.

JBS launches own slaughterhouse cleaning service after a contractor hired minors

The move follows the discovery of child labor used by a contractor to clean slaughterhouses in Minnesota and elsewhere.
3M will be making layoffs in June from its corporate headquarters workforce in Maplewood.

3M laying off 1,100 at Maplewood headquarters

That's 10% of the company's local workforce as 3M embarks on global cost-cutting plan
Two-, 5- and 10-pound bags of the Gold Medal unbleached and bleached all purpose flour with a “better if used by” date of March 27, 2024, and Marc

General Mills' Gold Medal flour recalled over salmonella concerns

A multistate salmonella outbreak was reported by federal authorities last month involving flour.
Steven Brown, CEO of Nothing But Hemp, posed for a portrait with gummies containing Delta 9 and CBD in June 2022. Brown filed a lawsuit last week agai

Dispute between Minnesota hemp, marijuana advocates heads to court

The clash comes while the Legislature prepares to legalize recreational marijuana.
The band OK Go and Lakeville-based Post Consumer Brands battled about a trademark for Post’s new cereal line, OK GO!

Cereal-maker Post settles trademark dispute with band OK Go

The two parties reached a confidential settlement in federal court late Friday.
John Arms spoke at a Finn Fractionals Speaker Series event. Arms has written books about fractional work, which he says is a necessary revolution in t

How 'fractional work' is becoming the gig economy's next thing

The Twin Cities area has a "critical mass" of fractional professionals.
3M headquarters in Maplewood.

3M cutting 6,000 more jobs in restructuring

Global cuts, including in Minnesota, come in addition to 2,500 manufacturing layoffs announced in January as the company undertakes a significant reorganization.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says consumers should toss out Wonky Weeds THC syrups due to potential mold. Flavors include grape, cherry, bl

Minnesota regulators find mold in THC syrup

The companies behind the syrup are being sued for violating the state's hemp-derived THC law.
Cadillac Rainbow is one of dozens of strains of cannabis flower available at Herbana in Ann Arbor, Mich. States that have legalized recreational marij

The lessons Colorado and Michigan learned from marijuana legalization

Minnesota lawmakers considering legalizing recreational marijuana can look to these two states for answers.
Operating a forklift, Michael Baumann loaded up a trailer with frozen goods at General Mills in Chanhassen in 2020.

General Mills reduced its emissions more than 30% in three years. Now comes the hard part

Most of the company's greenhouse gas emissions are outside of the Golden Valley-based company's direct control.
Minneapolis Downtown Council CEO Steve Cramer speaking at a November 2017 event to mark the reopening of the renovated Nicollet Mall. Then-Mayor Betsy

Minneapolis Downtown Council CEO Steve Cramer to retire

The longtime booster of downtown departs after a long career in city, county and nonprofit roles.
A patron lit a joint April 3 at Hot Box Social in Hazel Park, Mich. Minnesota could legalize recreational marijuana in the next month.

As votes near, 4 ways Minnesota's marijuana legalization bill has changed

A few key updates as the Minnesota House and Senate prepare to vote on the measure.
Wells Fargo is consolidating its office space, including selling off its Home Mortgage building in the Phillips neighborhood, seen Monday, April 17, 2

Wells Fargo closing home mortgage campus in south Mpls.

The company also will exit its Metropoint offices in St. Louis Park and relocate workers to downtown Minneapolis and Shoreview.
3M corporate headquarters in Maplewood currently houses both companies under the 3M umbrella, but that will change by the end of the year.

3M health care spinoff will remain in Minnesota, for now

A "transitional arrangement" will keep both companies at 3M Center in Maplewood until a new headquarters is identified.
An Iowa hog farm.

Southern Minn. pork plant likely to close, laying off 1,000

HyLife Foods is seeking a buyer for the Windom, Minn., operation but has so far been unsuccessful.
Laura Schuster, a packing specialist, ran a cereal control through a metal detector on the phase 10 cereal line at the Post factory in Northfield, Min

Why factory jobs are attracting more young Minnesota workers

Amid changing perceptions, record job openings and a wave of retirements, Gen Z and millennials are increasingly drawn to manufacturing work.
In this Nov. 2, 2005, photo, turkeys are seen at a turkey farm near Sauk Centre, Minn.

New bird flu cases are confirmed in Minnesota flock

A mixed flock of 114 chickens, ducks and geese was infected with the virus in Le Sueur County.