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
Take and prepare food items are easy to locate in the grocery area of the Target in Minnetonka, as are the bulk food items in the foreground. ] JEFF W

Target joins antitrust lawsuit against Cargill and others over high beef costs

The Minnesota retailer is among the most recent to join dozens of plaintiffs alleging a price-fixing conspiracy by the nation's largest beef producers, including fellow Minnesota company, Cargill.
Myplas' plastic film recycling center in Rogers in December. The company has furloughed employees and is embarking on "operational changes" to resume

Minnesota's first plastic film recycling facility struggling just two months after opening

The Myplas facility had financial backing from several Minnesota companies, and others pledged to "evaluate" using more recycled plastic in their supply chains to make the facility viable.
Solventum originates from two words: "solving" and "momentum."

3M's health care spinoff becomes Minnesota's newest public company on April 1

The new business, Solventum, will employ 20,000 people.
573500171

Sun Country adds new California, New England destinations from MSP

Direct flights to Monterey and Manchester begin in August.
A stovetop griddle was stamped out of aluminum at Nordic Ware in St. Louis Park. The company aims to be PFAS-free by the end of March, ahead of Minnes

We're addicted to PFAS. Can we adapt to live without?

As bans and other regulations come into effect, there still aren't replacements for the useful but damaging "forever chemicals."
Enough makes a high-protein, high-fiber meat alternative by fermenting yeast. Cargill has partnered with the company to buy and market the ingredient,

Cargill invests in fungi-based mycoprotein company that makes meat alternatives

Scottish food tech firm Enough uses yeast to ferment grain sugars into a high-protein, meat-like biomass.
Hemp grows in a field in 2022 near Waconia, Minn. Hemp seed may soon be allowed in chicken feed, opening a potentially massive market that could boost

Hemp seed in chicken feed? A potentially huge market for Minnesota growers may be opening

Hemp seed meal becomes the first cannabis product to win initial federal approval for livestock feed in modern times.
Fair State Brewing Cooperative. ] (SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE/BRE McGEE) **Fair State Brewing Cooperative

Minneapolis-based Fair State Brewing files for bankruptcy protection, will remain open

The Twin Cities brewing cooperative is looking for a way through high levels of debt.
FILE-Yellow peas at a Puris facility. The Minneapolis-based company won a second tariff case against subsidized imports from China.

Minneapolis-based pea protein maker Puris wins tariff case against Chinese imports

Tariffs of up to 270% will be assessed to address "dumping" of low-priced imports.
Hands are seen rolling a joint on an employee handbook.

What every business needs to know about Minnesota's marijuana laws

Even if you don't work in the cannabis industry, you still need to make sure your company's policies reflect the state's new legalization laws.
Cannabis flower on display Aug. 1, 2023 at NativeCare in Red Lake, Minn.. The Red Lake Nation opened the state’s first recreational marijuana dispen

Marijuana use has increased in Minnesota. So have poison control calls.

A new state report has provided a snapshot of cannabis use in Minnesota leading up to legalization.
A shopper surveys the overflowing selection of packaged meat in a grocery early Monday, April 27, 2020, in southeast Denver.

Cargill buys two beef and pork plants to meet demand for pre-packaged cuts

The plants, in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, prepare 'case-ready' products meant to save time for meat departments at grocery stores.
General Mills Cheerios. Looking at the long history of General Mills lobbying the FDA on behalf of Cheerios, with the company pushing for more health

Consumer Reports calls out General Mills for plastic chemicals in food

Several products, including cans of Annie's organic cheesy ravioli, had higher levels of phthalates compared to other brands.
Egg McMuffins in the U.S. now use cage-free eggs after McDonald's and supplier Cargill beat a goal to be 100% cage-free at U.S. McDonald's locations b

McDonald's eggs are now 100% cage-free with assist from Cargill and a Minnesota grower

The fast-food chain hit its pledge early to use only cage-free eggs.
The Malt O Meal line offers more value to larger families.] Its been two years since MOM Brands (Malt O Meal) merged with Post Cereal to become Post C

Despite complaints about the economy, consumers still not buying cheaper cereal

Lakeville-based Post Consumer Brands isn't getting quite the 'trading down' benefit from frugal cereal shoppers it might have in the past.
3M global headquarters in Maplewood (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune)

3M expected to net up to $12 billion with health care spinoff, ratings agency says

Estimated windfall comes from a Fitch Ratings report. The influx of cash will help pay PFAS and military ear plug settlements over the coming years.
Guatemalan chain Pollo Campero plans to add 200 locations across the U.S. over the next several years, including nearly a dozen in Minnesota.

Guatemalan chicken chain Pollo Campero eyes expansion in Minnesota

Demand from Central Americans and a reshaped Midwestern palate means more Twin Cities locations to come.
Scotch Blue painter's tape was set into boxes at the 3M's Hutchinson Plant in August 2022.

What Minnesota inventions have shaped modern life?

Many know the story of the pacemaker and Post-it notes. But creative Minnesotans have devised hundreds of other products we take for granted.
General Mills released Yoplait Protein in January, catering to consumers seeking out the macronutrient while sticking to the original Yoplait taste.

Yoplait tries again to answer consumer demand for more protein, less sugar

The General Mills yogurt brand's latest attempt adds protein while maintaining taste.
Bundles of raw vanilla beans are stacked up Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024, at Vanilla Bean Project in Lakeland, Minn. The small Minnesota company is the fi

Minnesota company sells world's first regenerative organic vanilla extract. What does that mean?

The certification builds on organic standards to include human and animal health, economic fairness, soil regeneration and carbon sequestration.
3M headquarters in Maplewood.

Despite profit rebound, investors punish 3M's stock

Shareholders unimpressed by the Minnesota-based company's outlook, send stock plunging Tuesday, "There's more to do to reduce risk and uncertainty," CEO Mike Roman said.
General Mills saw another huge jump in sales during the summer months because of demand by at-home eaters. But the gain wasn't as strong as in the spr

General Mills is closing its on-site child care at headquarters

The company told employees there is reduced demand for the benefit at its Minnesota home office.
CHS headquarters in Inver Grove Heights, Minn.

Minnesota-based CHS explores potential merger with ag co-op Growmark

Illinois-based Growmark and Inver Grove Heights' CHS are in early talks.
Clemon Dabney groomed his cannabis plants from his basement in Bloomington.

Minnesota cannabis agency wants streamlined laws for faster dispensary openings

The state's Office of Cannabis Management also asked the Legislature for a different social equity approach.
Fil photo of pregnant woman who stood for a portrait in Dallas on Thursday, May 18, 2023.

Blaine pet store fired woman after learning she was pregnant

Minnesota Department of Human Rights settled a discrimination case against Four Paws and a Tail.
573506426

3M's earplug settlement on track as veterans and service members opt in to $6B deal

An attorney for the plaintiffs, now numbering over 276,000, said they believe the 98% participation threshold to uphold the deal will soon be met.
Cool waves wash up on South Maui beach at Wailea, Maui.

The year just started, but plan your time off now so you actually use all of it

Take a breather — actually, take several — by using up all your vacation time in 2024.
CHS headquarters in Inver Grove Heights.

'We don't set records every year,' CEO says ahead of CHS profits dropping 33%

The decline follows a record-setting first quarter a year ago for the Minnesota-based co-op.
Cargill Inc. headquarters in Minnetonka.

Cargill appoints tech exec as new top lawyer

Rishi Varma from Hewlett Packard Enterprise has been hired as chief legal officer as Anna Richo retires.
In tug-of-war over prices, grocers seek to wrest some control from food companies

In tug-of-war over prices, grocers seek to wrest some control from food companies

Retailers try to balance consumer resistance to price hikes with the power of brands to attract customers.
More than $135M worth of turkeys and chickens have been killed in Minnesota because of bird flu

More than $135M worth of turkeys and chickens have been killed in Minnesota because of bird flu

That's just what the USDA has reimbursed the state's poultry and egg producers so far.
Minnesota hog farmers shoulder weight of adapting to California's law

Minnesota hog farmers shoulder weight of adapting to California's law

Jan. 1 marked the deadline for banning sales in the Golden State of pork raised on farms where sows live in confined pens.
3M is freezing pension plans at the end of 2028.

3M freezing pensions for nonunion employees in 2028

In 2009, 3M had closed the door on new hires joining the pension plan.
3M 'reintroducing' itself at major electronics expo in Las Vegas

3M 'reintroducing' itself at major electronics expo in Las Vegas

The company travels to CES next week with an eye-catching exhibit.
The price of a 1-pound bag of potato chips has reached an average of about $6.50, nearly 50% higher than at the beginning of 2020.

Why mayo, chips and pop got so expensive so fast

Food inflation might be cooling, but it still burns. Just ask any grocery shopper.
Faye the chicken ran around Bill Eddins and Jennifer Gerth's chicken run he built in their backyard, taken in June 2020 in Minneapolis.

From chicken guts to stevia, Cargill wants to be an 'innovation brand'

Projects involving chickens and sugarless sweeteners are examples of a growing focus on innovation at the Minnetonka-based agribusiness, which netted the company several accolades this year.
General Mills headquarters in Golden Valley.

Consumers punishing General Mills for high prices after pandemic-era boost in sales

Company's outlook indicates it may not grow sales at all through next summer.
Egg-laying chicken operations around the country have reported millions of deaths due to bird flu in the past two months.

Bird flu cases slow in Minnesota, but egg producers elsewhere hit again

More than 16 million birds have been affected nationwide since October.
New Minnesota recycling plant wants your bag of plastic bags

New Minnesota recycling plant wants your bag of plastic bags

Myplas USA plans to recycle 90 million pounds of plastic annually at the $30 million plant.
The Puris plant in Dawson, Minn. The country’s leading pea protein producer has won an initial tariff case against Chinese producers that are report

Minnesota company scores a win in battle with Chinese pea protein makers

Minneapolis-based Puris, the country's leading pea protein producer, had to shut a Wisconsin facility due to "dumping" of low-cost Chinese imports.
What you need to know about Minnesota's Jan. 1 ban on PFAS chemicals in food containers

What you need to know about Minnesota's Jan. 1 ban on PFAS chemicals in food containers

Minnesota is one of 11 states banning the "forever chemicals" in food packaging in the next year. What consumers, restaurants and food makers should know.
Lawsuit filed as cantaloupe salmonella cases mount. Who will be held accountable?

Lawsuit filed as cantaloupe salmonella cases mount. Who will be held accountable?

Minneapolis law firm seeks unspecified damages over outbreak.
Owner of Duluth utility Minnesota Power exploring sale, report says

Owner of Duluth utility Minnesota Power exploring sale, report says

No deal is certain for Duluth-based Allete, which said it wouldn't comment on rumors or speculation.
Two Minnesota companies recall cut cantaloupe amid salmonella outbreak

Two Minnesota companies recall cut cantaloupe amid salmonella outbreak

Twin Cities-based Bix Produce and Cut Fruit Express launched voluntary recalls last week for products well past their expiration dates.
19-year-old man dies in landslide at Minneopa State Park near Mankato

19-year-old man dies in landslide at Minneopa State Park near Mankato

Authorities say a man became trapped under earth that collapsed near the Minneopa Falls.
Minnesota murder suspect who fled ahead of guilty verdicts captured in Detroit

Minnesota murder suspect who fled ahead of guilty verdicts captured in Detroit

Michael Harlan was convicted of murder and manslaughter for selling fentanyl pills disguised as oxycodone that led to a fatal overdose.
St. Paul man dies in crash attributed to icy roads

St. Paul man dies in crash attributed to icy roads

The single-vehicle crash happened Wednesday morning in western Wisconsin.
CHS Broadbent, a joint venture involving Minnesota-based CHS, is building a grain export terminal in Geelong, Australia.

Minnesota-based CHS joint venture building grain terminal in Australia

It's the first dedicated grain export terminal for CHS Broadbent in Australia, the world's second-largest wheat exporter.
Laura Roos, left, and Rachael Dillon co-founded Mary & Jane to help would-be cannabis users ‘find their dose.’

Minnesota company unveils one-milligram THC edibles to help new users 'find their dose'

Mary & Jane bucks the industry trend toward higher-potency cannabis to reach the 'canna-curious' through microdosing.
A 10-year-old works on a cocoa plantation in Ghana that a lawsuit alleges supplies cocoa to Minnetonka-based Cargill.

Lawsuit targets Cargill, other food companies for child labor in cocoa supply chain

A similar lawsuit was previously shot down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Hormel headquarters in Austin, Minn.

As profits tank, Hormel sees 'urgency' to make a turnaround

Earnings for the Minnesota-based meat company fell 20% in the past year as costs grew and demand fell.
Minnesota outlawed pregnancy discrimination in 1977.

Coon Rapids dental office settles discrimination allegation over firing of pregnant employee

State and federal laws prohibit employers from firing someone due to pregnancy.
Mike Lindell says he’s hired an outside law firm to help defend him in multiple defamation cases.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell hires outside law firm to defend against defamation suits

Lindell's previous attorneys recently announced they would have to walk away from the cases because of millions in unpaid fees.
The national median cost of a funeral with burial has risen to $8,300 this year, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

It's your funeral: Here's how to plan so your loved ones don't have to

From burial to cremation to composting, what to know about options — and costs — when planning what to do with your or a loved one's remains.
Fruity Dyno-Bites.

As shoppers balk at higher cereal prices, many switch to less-expensive store brands

General Mills remains the clear market leader, but a spun-off Kellogg has gained momentum.
Served at Ann Kim’s new Korean-American restaurant Kim’s and its downstairs Bronto Bar is a sandwich made with a house-made version of Spam, chees

Hormel asks Minneapolis chef Ann Kim to can the Spam, so now it's 'Ann's ham'

The Austin, Minn.-based creator of the processed canned pork owns the trademark to the Spam name, which the chef was using at Kim's, her Uptown establishment.
President Joe Biden pardoned the national Thanksgiving turkeys, Liberty and Bell, during a pardoning ceremony Monday on the South Lawn of the White Ho

Biden pardons Minnesota-raised turkeys in annual White House Thanksgiving tradition

Willmar-raised Liberty and Bell have been feted since their arrival in Washington, D.C., this weekend.
The most common type of turkey raised and eaten in America is the broad-breasted white.

How to sound smart talking turkey this Thanksgiving

Minnesota reigns as the nation's turkey producer, but can you guess how many of America's turkeys come from the state?
A sign in front of the 3M World Headquarters complex in suburban St. Paul.

3M reveals the name of its health care business to be spun off next year

The separation of Solventum from Maplewood-based 3M should be complete by the middle of next year.
Cargill headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn., on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023.

Cargill retains top spot on Forbes list of largest U.S. private companies

The Minnesota-based food and ag giant had a record $177 billion in revenue last year.
CHS headquarters in Inver Grove Heights.

Minnesota-based CHS reports record profits amid energy rebound

Energy profits nearly doubled.
Young cannabis plants in a growing room on Dec. 19, 2019, at Leafline Labs in Cottage Grove.

Cannabis legalization giving Minnesota manufacturers anxiety, survey shows

In annual survey of the state's manufacturing firms, leaders are confident in their financial future yet express unease with recent legislative mandates on employers.
The 8-acre solar farm outside of the Jennie-O Turkey Store plant in Montevideo, Minn., is one small part of a big commitment by Hormel Foods to reduce

Hormel just set ambitious climate goals. Can the company act fast enough?

Corporate sustainability experts lauded the company's 2030 targets but said action needs to follow, and fast.
General Mills Chief Supply Chain Officer Paul Gallagher, left, toured the company’s plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Toilet paper is back on shelves: Are supply chains back to normal?

Empty shelves in Minnesota are mostly a pandemic memory, but some disruptions are expected to continue.
General Mills corporate headquarters in Golden Valley.

General Mills adds new growth fund, acquires pet supplement business Fera Pets

The goal of the new fund is to scale up businesses that General Mills intends to eventually incorporate into its broader portfolio.
3M global headquarters in Maplewood.

3M fined $300K for Wisconsin worker death

OSHA says the company could have prevented a 57-year-old woman from getting caught in machinery and dying in May.
Eggs on their way to get washed at the Hi-Grade Egg Farm owned by Midwest Poultry Services, in North Manchester, Ind., Sept. 9, 2010.

Nearly 1 million chickens culled at one Minnesota egg producer due to bird flu

It's the largest poultry toll at a single commercial operation in Minnesota during the current outbreak.
A shopper surveys the overflowing selection of packaged meat in a grocery early Monday, April 27, 2020, in southeast Denver.

Minnesota AG joins antitrust suit accusing company of 'conspiring' to raise meat prices

Minnesota and three other states joined the federal lawsuit against Agri Stats on Monday.
Solugen plans to build a 500,000-square-foot chemical facility next to the ADM corn plant in Marshall, Minn.

Planned Minnesota plant would help replace petroleum chemicals with corn sugar

Solugen is planning a 500,000-square-foot plant in Marshall, Minn., in partnership with ADM.
3M’s Finesse-it paint repair system in use at a BMW plant in Germany. “We’ve been automating industrial processes for many, many years,” said

Auto-body work is labor intensive, but 3M wants to automate it. Here's what it looks like.

The company is marrying its oldest tech — abrasives — with the latest advancements in robotics.
Estate planning, whether as a will or trust, helps you plan for what happens to all your stuff when you die.

Let your dying wishes be known by estate planning — before it's too late

Estate planning involves taking inventory of your assets and liabilities and deciding how your survivors deal with those upon your death.
Schwan’s rolled out the new name and look for its delivery trucks in March 2022.

Yelloh, formerly Schwan's, cuts 90 delivery centers, 750 employees nationwide

The Minnesota company faces a "difficult reality" and will focus on home delivery in just 18 states and use UPS for the rest.
FILE - Five Minnesota counties have confirmed outbreaks of bird flu at turkey operations this month. Before October, there had not been an outbreak at

Bird flu spreads to more Minnesota turkey farms in October

Five counties have reported outbreaks this month as the virus again spreads at commercial operations.
Sisters Christina Dorr Drake, left, and Elena Dorr Zienda share samples of Willa’s Oat Milk at Lunds & Byerly’s in Minneapolis, Minn., on Thursday

Growth in plant-based foods industry is slowing. Where does it go from here?

Plant-based foods grew to an $8 billion industry last year, including several Minnesota brands, but gone are the days of double-digit growth.
3M headquarters in Maplewood.

3M stock rebounds on improved outlook as investors look past settlement losses

Adjusted earnings beat expectations for a quarter that included a $4.2 billion settlement charge.