Staff Directory 6134711

Brooks Johnson

Food and Manufacturing Reporter | Food and Manufacturing
Phone: 612-673-7633

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
Minnesota has not joined the few states that mandate paid leave, nor have any cities or counties passed rules specifically for parental leave. So for

How to navigate parental leave, no matter your situation

First step: Know what questions you need to answer and how to plan.
Iron-ore shipments, which comprise the majority of the cargo moving through the Port of Duluth-Superior, were down 20% in May.

Slow start for Minnesota taconite shipments

May shipments were 20% below average despite a high steel mill utilization rate and ice-free lakes.
Puris food scientists analyzed a non-dairy plant-based milk using Puris protein in its Minneapolis food lab in 2018.

University of Minnesota survey: 1 in 5 Americans prefer plant protein over meat

Omnivores will be hunting for more plant protein in the coming years, driving demand for alternatives.
There are many factors beyond just the ingredients that are baked into the price of bread.

Why food inflation may linger, as explained by a loaf of bread

Even if the war in Ukraine were to end and global wheat supply moderates, the cost of some consumer staples, like bread, could still be rising next year.
The Minneapolis production facility of So Good So You in a 2020 file photo. The company was part of last year’s Bold Growth program.

Minnesota food industry leaders seek to help maturing startups in next growth leap

The MBOLD group selected four businesses for its Bold Growth mentorship program, which focuses on proven startups looking to clear next growth hurdle.
Hundreds of people walked along Washington Avenue S. in Minneapolis as part of the March for Our Lives nationwide protest against gun violence on Satu

March for Our Lives protesters seek gun control in Minneapolis

Hundreds gathered in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday morning as part of a nationwide wave of marches, rallies and protests calling for stricter gun laws after recent mass shootings.
Chef salads with expiration dates of June 9 and June 11 and Caesar salads with expiration dates between May 26 and June 16 are subject to a recall and

SuperMom's Kitchen salads recalled for possible listeria contamination

The products are made by a St. Paul Park business for Speedway and other outlets.
3M corporate headquarters in Maplewood.

3M cleared to reopen Belgium factory partially idled by 'forever chemicals' concerns

Belgian regulators imposed strict pollution standards, and 3M is spending $300 million on remediation.
Maplewood-based 3M has discontinued making 3M Dust Remover.

3M settles with Duluth woman paralyzed by driver who huffed keyboard cleaner

The driver intentionally inhaled the aerosol spray while driving, lost consciousness and struck a pedestrian.
Sean O’Brien, the new general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, visited the UNFI distribution center in Hopkins in April ahea

Teamsters reach deals with UNFI, other Minn. food companies

The contract helps avert work stoppages that could have added pressure to an already strained grocery supply chain.
General Mills corporate headquarters and sign in Golden Valley, Minnesota.

General Mills selling its stake in often-criticized Israel business

The company's Pillsbury plant in the West Bank has drawn protests and boycotts over the years for being in occupied territory.
Hormel headquarters in Austin, Minn.

Hormel braces for bird flu impact on Jennie-O business, plans more price hikes

The Minnesota company said latest bird flu outbreak will cause "large supply gaps" for the Jennie-O turkey brand this year.
Finley’s Barkery grew out of baking activities co-owner Angie Gallus did with her Chaska High School special education classes. New owner Tuffy’s

Minnesota-based pet food company Tuffy's expands with purchase of Chaska business

Tuffy's will continue Finley's mission to employ people with disabilities.
Charlie Sugnet

Charlie Sugnet, University of Minnesota English professor who bridged Minnesota and Africa, dies at 77

Sugnet was remembered as a compassionate teacher and influential intellectual who helped launch the U's creative writing program.
A photo of the rebranded line of Hamburger Helper meals, taken at the General Mills offices in Golden Valley, Minn., on Tuesday, June 25, 2013

General Mills to sell Hamburger Helper, other brands for $610 million

With the divestiture, the Minnesota company diminishes its presence in the boxed-food category it pioneered 50 years ago.
FILE-The Minnesota Legislature addressed a number of issues that had clouded the future of the state’s hemp industry.

Minnesota greenlights small doses of THC derived from legal hemp

Among a suite of changes to the state's hemp industry, up to 5 mg of hemp-derived THC will be allowed in food and beverages.
General Mills updated its shared spaces at the Golden Valley headquarters to encourage in-person collaboration when employees are in the office as par

General Mills focuses on 'moments that matter' for in-person work

Teams at the Golden Valley headquarters pick the schedules that work best for meeting up in the office.
3M headquarters in Maplewood.

3M loses final bellwether earplug trial with $77M verdict in favor of veteran

With no sign of a settlement to resolve the remaining claims against the company, cases are preparing to go to trial in waves of 500 at a time.
A woman shops for baby formula at Target in Annapolis, Md., on May 16, 2022, as a nationwide shortage of baby formula continues due to supply-chain cr

Formula shortage could ease by late June, but feels far off to many Minnesota caregivers

Minnesota parents expressed exhaustion, desperation over on infant formula shortage Thursday at the Capitol in St. Paul.
The worst bird-flu outbreak since 2015 has slowed significantly in Minnesota.

The worst appears over for bird flu in Minnesota poultry operations

The spread of the virus that's claimed nearly 38 million birds nationwide has slowed substantially in May.
U.S. spending on pet food and treats has jumped from $37 billion in 2019 to $50 billion in 2021, according to the American Pet Products Association. B

'Fur baby boom' boosts General Mills' Blue Buffalo brand

The brand has seen big growth due to the "humanization" of pet food.
Panache CEO and co-founder Ameeta Jaiswal-Dale bottling elderberry-infused apple juices. Having “functional” ingredients in beverages is a key tre

Minnesota-made drinks aim to do more for your body than quench thirst

Consumers are looking for added benefits from their everyday food and drink to boost their health and wellness.
SunOpta CEO Joe Ennen said innovation, such as this tropical dragonfruit smoothie bowl, is key for fruit products as “there’s only so much value o

Eden Prairie's SunOpta starts seeing turnaround in fruit business

Changes to production along with product innovation are boosting the plant-based food company's fruit segment.
Baby formula is displayed on the shelves of a grocery store with a sign limiting purchases in Indianapolis Tuesday. Parents are scrambling to find for

As infant formula shortage persists, FDA reiterates it's moving to fix

The agency says it is streamlining processes to combat empty shelves that are creating stress for parents and caregivers who rely on the nutrition to feed their babies.
An employee works at ProFab Welding & Machine in Lakeville, which Troy Heuermann purchased using retirement savings in a Rollovers for Business Startu

How to roll over retirement savings to buy a business

A ROBS rollover is a little-known mechanism for starting a business. It is complex and can be risky, but for some it's the right option.
Similac baby formula on the shelves at Shaker’s IGA in Olmsted Falls, Ohio.

Minnesota parents still struggling to find infant formula amid shortages

Abbott's Similac recall complicated an already tight supply of the crucial infant nutrition.
In a June 6, 2008, file photo, a row of freshly poured draft beers are seen in Pittsburgh.

Shakopee's Rahr Corp. joins effort to diversify craft beer

The malt company announced at this week's Craft Brewers Conference in Minneapolis that it's committing $100,000 to fund the Harriet Baskerville Incubation Program's first year.
A Charter Next Generation employee oversees the blown-film process that creates plastic films for food and medical uses. The Wisconsin-based company w

Minnesota businesses team up to bring plastic film recycling to state

Myplas is opening a $24 million recycling facility in Rogers next year to process flexible films and other plastics that otherwise would be headed for the landfill.
Bryan Moore of Three Floyds Brewing in Munster, Ind., tipped back a sample of Hopsteiner Solero double IPA at the national Craft Brewers Conference at

After an explosive decade, craft beer growth slows as industry matures

With 10,000 people gathered for this week's Craft Brewers Conference in Minneapolis, leaders say the industry is maturing and smaller breweries must keep pace with consumers.
Tiffany Farrier is owner of the state’s first halal-certified farm, Kandi Acres.

Locally raised halal meat presents new opportunities for Minnesota producers

Most halal goat meat now comes frozen from Australia and New Zealand, but there's an effort afoot to create a fresh, local supply.
The Consumer Brands Association and several large food companies — including Minnesota-based General Mills and Post Consumer Brands — are calling

'Copycat' cannabis edibles draw ire of big food companies

Packaging that mirrors major brands are called "unscrupulous" and potentially dangerous for children.
3M headquarters in Maplewood.

3M's profit slips on flat sales as company starts to report financial impact of litigation

Demand for N95 respirator masks drops as the company begins reporting effect on bottom line from PFAS, earplug litigation.
Sean O’Brien, the new general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, visited the UNFI distribution center in Hopkins last weekend

New Teamsters president visits Minnesota to rally local union members

Amid contract negotiations in Rochester, St. Cloud and Hopkins, O'Brien touts "a new generation of workers."
Fast-food eateries dot the landscape on West Broadway in north Minneapolis.

U study in north Minneapolis asks: Do we eat more fast food because we want it or because it's there?

Research project seeks to learn why West Broadway in Minneapolis is a magnet for fast-food outlets.
Consumers have reported illnesses tied to eating Lucky Charms, but General Mills and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have not found evidence lin

Are Lucky Charms actually making people sick? General Mills finding no link.

Neither General Mills or the FDA have found any link between the cereal and recent reports, but the federal agency continues investigating consumer complaints.
Worldwide trust in science is rising, but misinformation is threatening scientific credibility, according to the 3M State of Science Index. Shown is g

3M survey: Trust in science is high, but misinformation is a threat

The company's fifth annual State of Science Index also showed rising global concern for climate change.
A woman, identified by an activist group as Alicia Santurio, is escorted off the court after attempting to glue her hand to the court during the Minne

Woman at Timberwolves game protests bird-flu deaths at Taylor company

The woman was removed from Target Center after she tried to glue her hand to the basketball court Tuesday night.
Supply Change Capital co-founders Noramay Cadena, left, and Shayna Harris and will use the 301 Inc. funding to back diverse food companies.

General Mills' 301 Inc. invests $15 million in female-led venture funds

The money is meant to address the disparity in venture funding for businesses led by women and people of color.
The rebuilt E. Lake Street Target store in Minneapolis.

Twin Cities inflation hits record 8.2%, food and gas prices up

While prices are up, the metro area's inflation rate on food and fuel were less severe than the national average.
Post-it Notes teamed up with the Pantone Color Institute to release 11 new color schemes meant to meet demand for more personalized office spaces.

Post-it Notes get a Pantone color makeover

The 3M brand partnered with the global color authority for new hues and palettes as offices become more personalized.
Greed or good business? Food company profits over past year

Greed or good business? Food company profits over past year

Some big food and beverage companies have pushed up profit margins along with price increases, while others are just passing along the increased cost of doing business.
CHS headquarters in Inver Grove Heights.

CHS wraps up profitable quarter as war in Ukraine unsettles key energy and grain segments

The Minnesota agricultural firm's second quarter ended before the effects of the conflict could be felt. Improved energy demand, commodity and fertilizer prices drove CHS profits in the first months of 2022.
The largest avian influenza outbreak since 2015 has affected more than 630,000 birds, mostly turkeys, in Minnesota as of Tuesday.

Bird flu reaches 1 million turkeys in Minnesota: Here's what you need to know

The poultry industry, regulators and politicians have repeatedly assured consumers it is not a food safety issue. But bird viruses do, however, have the potential to do economic damage.
Minnesota farmers beat drought and supply-chain snags to post near-record profits in 2021.

For the second year, Minnesota farmers saw profitability improve in 2021

Adjusted for inflation, last year was the second-most-profitable on record. It was also the second straight year of improved profitability for the state's farmers after seven years of barely breaking even.
The Minnesota Pork Board released a report Tuesday that outlines a range of actions to make pork production more sustainable and help the industry red

Minnesota pork producers eye 40% greenhouse gas reduction by end of decade

A new report provides a model for sustainability practices in the nation's second-leading pork-producing state.
SunOpta CEO Joe Ennen, right, watched as food scientists evaluated samples of a pumpkin oat beverage.

SunOpta's new Eden Prairie HQ cements transition to Minnesota

The non-dairy milk and fruit-based food producer is rapidly expanding production capacity to meet demand for more plant-based products.
The pictured products, with expiration dates in May 2023, are subject to the recall.

Thousands of jars of Skippy peanut butter recalled over possible metal shards

The Hormel-owned brand said stainless steel fragments may be present in more than 9,000 cases.
The first cases of a highly contagious strain of bird flu have reached Minnesota flocks.

Bird flu detected in Minnesota flocks

The industry is confident the multi-state outbreak won't be as devastating as 2015.
Minnesota-based confection company JonnyPops is expanding to this 80,000-square-foot facility in Elk River this year. Smaller food brands need help ge

More food manufacturing could unlock billions for Minnesota economy

But a recent study found small food and beverage brands and manufacturers need help connecting.
General Mills corporate headquarters are in Golden Valley.

General Mills tweaks formulas to stay ahead of supply chain woes

Profits were up 11% and sales were flat in the quarter ended Feb. 27.
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, here playing the Timberwolves last week, partnered with General Mills to open the Taco Shop by Old El Paso re

General Mills, LeBron James foundation team up on taco restaurant

The Taco Shop by Old El Paso had its soft opening in Akron, Ohio, last month.
Tucker Gretebeck and a couple of his dairy cows on his farm near Cashton, Wis.

Wisconsin's Organic Valley dairy co-op focused on carbon 'insetting'

The Wisconsin-based farmer cooperative aims to be the first major dairy company to offset its emissions through on-farm practices.
Hemp is a cannabis sativa plant containing 0.3% or less THC, the compound that produces a high in marijuana. It’s legal in all 50 states and is foun

Minnesota hemp industry applauds legal fix to CBD question

The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy on Wednesday returned legal clarity to CBD sales and possession in the state.
3M headquarters in Maplewood.

Belgium finalizes stricter PFAS regulations, keeping 3M plant partially idle

The company said it supports reduced discharge limits but disagrees with the time frame.
3M senior staff scientist Tim Hebrink showed the radiative cooling film that is installed on the roof of North Market in Minneapolis.

Can a 3M film help climate-proof our buildings?

3M's passive radiative cooling film used in SkyCool rooftop systems is now at use in several pilots, including North Market in Minneapolis.
Though no cases of bird flu have been reported in Minnesota as of Thursday, officials say it’s likely just a matter of time before it reaches the st

Minnesota's birds, poultry industry at risk as avian flu closes in

Cases in Iowa, South Dakota flocks means outbreak likely in Minnesota, but it's possible to avoid a worst-case scenario.
3M corporate headquarters in Maplewood.

3M suspends 'all business operations' in Russia

The Maplewood-based company has an office in Moscow.
Huber Engineered Woods won approval from the Cohasset City Council on Tuesday, March 8, to move forward on a $440 million wood mill in northern Minnes

Cohasset council OKs environmental review for $440M wood plant

Council upholds legislative carve-out, will not require lengthier environmental study for Huber's $440 million wood mill.
Tetra Pak U.S. and Canada CEO Seth Teply, left, talks to an employee at the company’s Winsted facility. Teply, who grew up in Glencoe, was tapped la

In Winsted, Minn., Tetra Pak plant responds to high global food demand

Glencoe native Seth Teply was named CEO of Tetra Pak U.S. and Canada last fall. The Minnesota-raised executive started his career in Winsted as an intern.
Cases of beer on shipping pallets.

Large beer distributor J.J. Taylor is selling its Minnesota business

About 180 employees would be laid off, with many likely to be hired on by the new owner, Breakthru Beverage Group.
Todd Geselius, vice president of agriculture at the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Co-op, showed in 2015 what a sugar beet looks like when it is harves

Is Minnesota really one of the nation's top sugar producers?

Americans consume sugar from beets every day, whether they realize it or not. And Minnesota farmers produce a lot of it.
Minnesota Power’s 10-megawatt solar array at Camp Ripley near Little Falls came online in 2016. Parent company Allete’s acquisition of New Energy

Duluth's Allete buys solar developer for $165 million

Allete is acquiring New Energy Equity, a Maryland company that focuses on small-scale projects.
Angela Dawson inspected hemp buds in her greenhouse in September. Dawson said legislators need to act on a number of issues that have the hemp industr

Minnesota's hemp industry in trouble, advocates push Legislature for fixes

A state appeals court ruling last year put Minnesota sales of CBD, delta-8 THC in question
Hormel’s refrigerated foods saw sales jump 19%, to $1.6 billion, over the holiday quarter. File photo of Hormel party trays.

Planters, pricing, promotion give Hormel another record quarter

The Austin, Minn., foodmaker hit $3 billion in first-quarter sales for the first time.
Beth Ford, CEO of Land O Lakes, in a file photo.

Profit rose 11% at Land O'Lakes as dairy products stayed popular last year

The cooperative said supply chain and inflation issues eroded some of its profit growth.
The Minnesota-grown Kay’s Naturals brand, acquired last year by Eden Prairie-based Milk Specialties Global, will be discontinued. The Clara City, Mi

Kay's Naturals discontinued months after sale; Clara City plant still growing

The new owner, Eden Prairie-based Milk Specialties Global, said the decision reflects a "shift in the business model."
Huber Engineered Woods wants to build a $440 million wood-products mill in Cohasset, Minn., and said it will employ 150 people.

Leech Lake Band, Indigenous activists push back on planned wood plant in Cohasset

"We have a right to have it proven to us that this is not going to hurt us; I don't think they can prove that," one activist says.
Packing manager Erik Raivo packaged up beer for distribution at Indeed Brewing Company on Friday, Feb. 18, in Minneapolis.

The latest supply chain casualty? Your favorite six-pack of beer

Brewers have largely absorbed the ballooning expenses for their ingredients, but as the supply chain woes persist, consumers will start paying more for their beer.
JonnyPops co-founders Connor Wray and Erik Brust in their new facility, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, Elk River, Minn. JonnyPops, a popsicle company founded i

JonnyPops expands with Elk River plant as popsicle company hits 10 years

The Minnesota maker of frozen treats invests in a major expansion, aiming for faster growth over the next decade.
A Pacific white-legged shrimp raised at Tru Shrimp’s facility in Balaton, Minn., in 2018.

Minnesota's Tru Shrimp postpones IPO

The aquaculture company cited 'adverse market conditions' in delaying its plans.
3M’s Cottage Grove manufacturing facility.

3M plans $165M in water upgrades at Cottage Grove plant

The chemical manufacturing campus had been the source of PFAS contamination in east metro groundwater that led to a settlement with the state of Minnesota.
The Northshore taconite processing and shipping facility in Silver Bay and the Babbitt mine will idle this spring due in part to a dispute over royalt

Mesabi Trust says Cleveland-Cliffs has 'failed to engage' over royalties at mine

Cliffs CEO said 'ridiculous royalty structure' reason for idling Silver Bay and Babbitt operations this spring.
Iron concentrator equipment inside the Northshore Mining plant in Silver Bay, Minn., was installed in 2019.

Plans to idle Northshore mine disrupt otherwise strong outlook for iron ore and steel

Taconite mines recovered quickly in 2021 from a brief pandemic lull, and strong steel demand bodes well for the industry's year ahead.
Northshore Mining in Silver Bay and Babbitt will idle this spring as owner Cleveland-Cliffs looks to avoid royalty payments to Mesabi Trust and says �

Cleveland-Cliffs to idle Northshore taconite mine this spring

Halt will allow Northshore to avoid 'absurdly high' royalty payments to Mesabi Trust.
The University of Minnesota is looking to consolidate and grow its agriculture and food research with a $220 million center outside Austin.

University of Minnesota plans $220M agriculture research center near Austin

Legislature asked for $60 million to kick off initiative in Mower County.