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’ latest results were shaped by spending before the recent run on cereals and other packaged foods caused by anxiety about coronavirus.

Coronavirus is changing food demand by the week, General Mills says

Executives of the Golden Valley-based food company said they have been in closer contact with U.S. retailers than ever before, with its plants at full capacity.
The ticketing concourse at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was almost empty Wednesday afternoon.

Delta, Sun Country cut flight schedules more deeply because of coronavirus

Delta and Sun Country, two leading airlines at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, on Wednesday announced deeper cuts to their flight schedules as more people avoid…
Target and other big grocers are seeing no disruptions in the supply of food and other goods. On Tuesday morning, a truck navigated past shopping cart

There's plenty of food to go around, and Minnesota stores are getting it in

The crush of grocery shoppers has been bigger than what is seen at Thanksgiving, but trucks keep rolling up with more.

Sun Country scrambles to get passengers out of Aruba and Costa Rica after borders closed

The Minnesota-based airline has stopped flying passengers into those countries and is trying to reach customers still there to ferry them out.
Reporter Kristen Painter's officemate at home has her charms but isn't as talkative as the colleagues at the office.

Working from home to avoid coronavirus: I admit, I miss people.

If new to telecommuting, be prepared for a few challenges.
Delta Air Lines will park hundreds of planes as it shuts down 40% of its flight capacity as air travel demand plummeted in the wake of the coronavirus

Delta makes deepest-ever cutback: Flights slashed 40%, Europe dropped

It became clear to executives that cuts the airline announced on Tuesday wouldn't be enough.
Sun Country's call center has been swamped by passengers trying to change spring break plans.

Sun Country's call center is swamped as passengers scrub spring break plans

March is usually the busiest month for the Twin Cities airline, and the virus is disrupting its passengers' plans.
Whitney MacMillan in a file photo taken at the administrative office of Cargill on Lake Minnetonka near his retirement in the mid-1990s.

Whitney MacMillan, former leader of Cargill and descendant of its founder, dies at 90

MacMillan was the last member of the family that owns Cargill to run the company.
Delta is cutting back routes and capital spending as it adjusts to dropping demand for air travel as passengers around the world wait out effects of t

Delta takes dramatic steps to cut its losses from coronavirus slowdown

The world's most profitable airline is reducing global flights by 15% and asking workers to take time off.
Greenhouse workers at Superior Fresh in Northfield, Wis., packed produce for distribution.

Huge Wisconsin operation shows promise of aquaponics in Midwest

Superior Fresh's grand experiment raises an intriguing question that, for now, can't be answered: How many other Midwest farmers can follow its path?
A Sun Country Airlines plane is shown in an October 2019 file photo.

Sun Country Airlines trims spring and summer flights amid coronavirus

Airline is reducing travel to and from MSP and suspending three routes from Portland.
Passengers from a Delta Air Lines flight that took off from Seoul, South Korea, arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport in February.

Airline industry preparing for worst with virus outbreak

Already, travel demand is dropping globally, and airlines are drastically reducing flight capacity while offering new waivers to passengers. The effect could be on par with the blow dealt by the Great Recession in 2008.
Because of the coronavirus threat, Delta is suspending the daily non-stop flights between MSP and Seoul that started last April.

Delta suspends MSP flight to Seoul through April, citing lower demand due to coronavirus

Delta suspends nonstop flights from MSP to Seoul through April, citing lower demand due to virus
General Mills' venture fund, 301 Inc., is coleading a fund-raising round for Pet Plate, a New York firm that sells fresh-made pet food.

General Mills' venture arm invests in company that delivers fresh-cooked meals for dogs

301 Inc. leads funding round for Pet Plate, a maker of high-end "kettle cooked" dog dinners.
Leaders at Eureka Recycling, which services Minneapolis and St. Paul, say a growing amount of plastic entering their doors can’t be sorted and recyc

Lobbyists fight surge of bills targeting plastic packaging

Faltering recycling systems and concerns about ocean plastics have spurred state lawmakers from California to Maine to propose new rules targeting plastic waste, particularly from packaging. Many prompt a visit from Ameripen, a decade-old nonprofit that now has registered lobbyists in eight states.
Hormel headquarters in Austin, Minn.

Hormel Foods to buy Texas barbecue company for $270 million

The deal for Sadler's Smokehouse is the latest expanding the company's deli and food service business.
In Wuhan: In this Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, photo released by Xinhua News Agency, patients infected with the coronavirus take rest at a temporary hospita

First of Minnesota's largest companies confirm coronavirus will affect bottom line

General Mills, Medtronic, Ecolab talk about how the outbreak is affecting their businesses during investor events.
General Mills said about half of its Haagen-Dazs shops in China have been closed because of the coronavirus. The shops are distinguished by treats suc

General Mills temporarily closes nearly half its Häagen-Dazs shops in China due to coronavirus

The Golden Valley-based food maker reaffirmed its optimistic full-year guidance Tuesday despite challenges in Asia.
Canada’s antitrust regulators are challenging Cargill and other leading seed producers over their unwillingness to work with a startup firm that aim

Canada antitrust officials probe Cargill, other firms in dealings with tech startup

Canadian officials examine whether seed giants are restraining a tech newcomer.
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Cargill nears completion of huge new test kitchen in Savage

The company will develop ingredients for cakes, cookies and chocolates.
Dunaroos in new packaging will again be sold in the U.S. this summer.

General Mills to relaunch Dunkaroos, selling 1990s nostalgia

The Minnesota food giant will start selling the cookie-and-frosting snack in U.S. stores this summer.
Last year, Gwyneth Paltrow's company Goop began using an ingredient from Diamond V in an immunity-boosting chew called "Perfect Attendance." Above, Pa

Discovery in an Iowa factory led Cargill to work with Goop

Workers at a plant in Cedar Rapids, a maker of animal supplements from fermented ingredients, simply weren't getting sick as often as their spouses or the company's office workers.
Thirty minutes after Delta’s announcement, Dallas-based American Airlines suspended flights to China through March 27

Delta suspends flights between China and U.S. for 3 months

Delta will operate flights until Wednesday to ensure customers looking to leave China can do so.
Delta Air Lines launched its line of uniforms by designer Zac Posen with much fanfare at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in 2018.

Delta to issue new uniforms after lawsuits over illnesses

The airline will launch a new line — and use textile-industry standards — for 35,000 of its workers.
Delta’s credit cards with American Express have a new look, and the platinum and reserve cards are made of metal.

Delta launches its new credit cards, including two made of metal

All four tiers for the consumer cards — blue, gold, platinum and reserve — have a new look, but only the latter two will be made of metal.
Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, is essentially closed to business right now.

Minnesota companies starting to feel sting of coronavirus outbreak in China

3M, Medtronic and others are adjusting operations as companies across the U.S. get ready to pivot should the outbreak cause longer-term slowdowns.
Delta is ending a security contract with DGS, its former subsidiary, for employee screenings at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Delta ends security deal with DGS at MSP; 118 may be laid off

DGS warns the severance could lead to 118 layoffs.
Delta will start using CarePod’s pet systems on its planes.

Federal government wants to put a stop to the petting zoo in the sky

It comes as Delta Air Lines announced it now offers a deluxe animal crate that can be tracked like luggage.
Fastenal's latest results were weakened by the slower industrial work during the yearend holidays and by the ongoing tariff dispute with China.

Holidays, tariffs trip up Fastenal a bit

Manufacturing bellwether's latest profit missed expectations partly due to holiday slowdown.
The Rev. Gordon “Gordy” Grimm

The Rev. Gordon Grimm, a minister and pioneer in the Minnesota Model of addiction treatment, dies at 86

Hired in 1965 as Hazelden's first full-time pastor, Grimm helped imbue the institution with a spiritual, whole-person approach to addiction treatment.
Good Catch, a brand of New York-based Gathered Foods that has attracted an investment from General Mills, has started selling three types of plant-bas

Vegan fish? General Mills invests in plant-based seafood

Tuna without the mercury and fish burgers without the fish.That's what Gathered Foods Corp., a startup firm that developed plant-based seafood, is selling — and…
Delta Air Lines launched its new line of uniforms for all its employees during a fashion show at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in 2018.

Delta uniforms build wedge between airline and flight attendants

Skin, breathing and other health issues linked to the airline's uniforms have prompted two class action lawsuits. As many as 3,000 flight attendants have reported problems.
Cargill reported a $1.19 billion profit for the second quarter of fiscal 2020.

Cargill sees 61% increase in Q2 profits after shifting business to offset disruptions

The Minnetonka-based agribusiness was able to use size to its advantage.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian, shown here during a November visit to Minnesota, spoke Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Delta CEO envisions tech making future air travel far more personal

In a speech at CES, Ed Bastian outlines plans to use biometrics to help guide passengers through flying experience.
Celia Hahn was separated from her twin boys, Curry, left, and Ryan, right, during a Delta flight over Thanksgiving.

Parents, kids separated more often with new airline seating

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently decided against implementing a policy that would require airlines to seat minor children next to an accompanying adult. This leaves it up to the discretion of the airlines.
Investors watched General Mills' results for news about its entry into the pet food business and progress on boosting sales of snacks and yogurt. File

Blue Buffalo pet food continues to be a hit for General Mills

The company's pet food segment grew 16% in the latest quarter while U.S. cereal grew a surprising 5%.
Amazon is hiring Sun Country to fly shipments under its Amazon Air business. The six-year deal puts Sun Country into the scheduled cargo business for

Sun Country will start cargo service with a big first customer: Amazon

Minnesota airline will add 10 planes, 70 pilots under 6-year cargo service deal.
General Mills will sell limited edition heart-shaped regular and Honey Nut Cheerios.

O, no: Cheerios changes shape to a heart for new marketing campaign

It's all a part of the food maker's ongoing marketing campaign that claims its whole-grain cereals can be good for heart health.
Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland, left, Mexico's top trade negotiator Jesus Seade, center, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Light

Minnesotans applaud trade breakthrough, forged by rare Pelosi-Trump compromise

The biggest obstacle to trade for Minnesota farmers, the trade war with China, remains.
Jay Johnson, Revol Greens president and partner, with greens at the company's Medford, Minn., indoor growing facility.

Indoor lettuce growers find market amid another E. coli outbreak

Another outbreak of E. coli in romaine lettuce has sickened more than 100 people nationwide and left others wondering if raw salad is safe.As food-safety…
Sun Country will start flying to Vancouver.

Sun Country adds summer route between MSP and Vancouver

Sun Country Airlines is expanding to Canada for the first time.Beginning May 20, the Twin Cities-based carrier will fly nonstop from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport…
UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan.

Type of helicopter that crashed in Minnesota known for its reliability

Mishap rate "relatively low" for the UH-60 Black Hawk, which has been used by the U.S. military since 1978.
JBS USA already operates an extensive hog slaughterhouse in Worthington.

JBS to buy nearly shuttered Pipestone, Minn., meat plant, preserving 130 jobs

The world's largest beef and pork processor is expanding its footprint in Minnesota with the purchase of a nearly-shuttered beef processing plant in Pipestone.
General Mills is joining the plant-based foods craze with the launch of its first-ever nondairy yogurt, a coconut-based product under the Oui by Yopla

General Mills joins the plant-based frenzy with a new dairy-free yogurt

The mega food maker launches a coconut-milk based product to compete for consumers.
Cargill's announcement coincides with the U.N. climate summit.

Cargill commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions

The commitment follows a contentious summer when Cargill faced severe activist criticism during the recent spate of fires in and around the Amazon.
Turkeys are back for Hormel

Turkeys are back for Hormel

The turkey business helped offset lower pork prices.
The Jennie-O turkey business of Hormel Foods enlisted celebrity chefs to answer questions on a Thanksgiving feast hotline this week.

You forgot to thaw your Thanksgiving turkey? Jennie-O has celebrity chefs who can help

Uh, oh. What if you didn't start thawing your 20-pound turkey in time for Thanksgiving? What sort of main course should you make for your…
Inspected: Casey Preston-Scott checked organic beef at Lorentz Meats in Cannon Falls, Minn., the processor for Blue Nest Beef.

Food startup Blue Nest offers beef from cattle that fix climate-change problems

Partnership with Audubon helps company find target for direct sales to consumers.
Some bagged salads sold at Minnesota stores recalled

Some bagged salads sold at Minnesota stores recalled

Target and Aldi labels are included on the list.
Wuollet Bakery is in full preparation mode for the holiday season, its first under new owner Eric Shogren, who also owns A Baker’s Wife and a Russia

New Wuollet owner aims for younger audience — but won't change princess torte

The Wuollet family recently sold the 75-year-old Twin Cities bakery chain to Eric Shogren, a Minneapolis native with experience running bakeries in Russia.
Cargill and Royal DSM are producing EverSweet, a new sugar substitute, at Cargill's ingredients plant in Blair, Neb., shown here.

Cargill, DSM ramp up production of new sugar substitute

The product, called EverSweet, has traits similar to stevia but without the bitter aftertaste.
The fifth annual Minnesota Mujeres Latinas Expo will be in Bloomington Saturday. Women business owners and others gather for workshops and to sell goo

Minnesota Latina Women's Expo offers connections

The fifth-annual conference aims to bolster Hispanic women on the state's business scene.
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Rembrandt Foods to shutter Minnesota egg plant, laying off 52 workers

The Iowa-based egg manufacturer did not give a reason, but said the Renville plant would begin closing down shop in January.
St. Paul Saints co-owner Mike Veeck at his South Carolina home with daughter Rebecca, 11, in 2003.

Rebecca Veeck, Saints ballpark greeter from childhood, dies at 27

Longtime fans may remember her wearing matching tutus with the team's mascot, a pig, to deliver baseballs to the home plate umpire.
Seven Sundays, led by (from left) Carrie Lewis, Brady Barnstable, Hannah Barnstable, Molly Goodearle and Andy Montzka, gained B corporation status.

Minneapolis muesli maker Seven Sundays restructures with an eye on social goals

It has qualified as a certified B corporation, one that balances profits with good works.
CEO Ed Bastian said the AFA has tried before and failed to unionize Delta’s flight attendants. “I feel optimistic that the Delta spirit is going t

Nation's largest flight-attendant's union makes another run at Delta

Organizing failed in past, but labor sees recent surge.
Workers at a General Mills plant in Iowa rejected a contract offer late Wednesday, setting the stage for a possible strike.

General Mills workers at Iowa plant reject a contract offer, raising prospect of strike

Workers in Cedar Rapids voted down a contract; talks recently turned sour.
Sun Country will fly to Baltimore, Cleveland, Bozeman, Montana, and Portland, Maine, from MSP next summer.

Sun Country offers four new summer routes, including the only nonstop from MSP to Portland, Maine

The routes reflect Sun Country's strategy of shifting northward in the summer.
Cargill finalized the sale of its malt business to Boortmalt, a unit of the French agriculture cooperative Axereal.

Cargill finalizes sale of its 40-year-old malt business

The Minnetonka firm says it will focus on other food and beverage ingredients.
Joe Driscoll, who worked at General Mills and Angie’s Boomchickapop before becoming CEO at Pearson, said, “ Our goal is to become the premier cand

New CEO takes over at Pearson Candy, backed by local money, ideas to grow

St. Paul's Pearson Candy Co. embraces its classic products while developing new ones.
Schwan’s is now letting other food product firms use its nationwide distribution system to reach customers.

For first time, Schwan's offers distribution network to food startup firms

Online grocery shopping is projected to quadruple from 2018 to 2023, and some think the frozen category has even more room to grow.
Sun Country Airlines has seen its charter flight business increase this year, in part because rivals' fleets have been constrained by the grounding of

Sun Country scores bookings as 737 Max grounding hits rivals

The Minnesota airline's lesser-known business is flourishing at the moment. Sun Country doesn't have Max planes in its fleet and relies heavily on the 737-800.
Sun Country Airlines is partnering with a new bus service, called Landline, to offer land and air service from Duluth and Mankato. The service may exp

Sun Country reaches out to Duluth, Mankato air travelers, with bus to MSP

Sun Country is Landline's launch customer, and Minnesota will be the first market to test the concept.
Post Consumer Brands CEO Howard Friedman faces the challenge of navigating the company through big changes in consumer breakfast-eating habits.

New leader at Post finds cereal lovers still love the sweet stuff

CEO Howard Friedman sees growth despite changes in Americans' breakfast habits.
Premade products such as some chicken salads are being recalled after a listeria outbreak.

Lawsuit filed related to ongoing listeria outbreak linked to precooked chicken products

The chicken could be in chicken salad, strips or other prepared items sold under a number of different brands.
The union representing workers at Worthington hog producer JBS has sued the USDA.

Union sues to stop new Trump rule it says takes public oversight out of meatpacking

Suit says removal of limit on line speeds could lead to more injuries, unsafe meat.

Minnesota observes first Veterans Suicide Prevention and Awareness Day

Day of awareness aims to fight stigma of military suicides and offer help.

Delta changes terms and perks on its American Express credit cards.

Most will earn points faster, but all but blue cardholders will take a bump to the annual fee.
Sun Country airlines has revamped its technology and more after several customer service issues over the summer.

After summer tailspin, Sun Country redesigns its customer service

The transition to new technology has been the latest rough patch for the airline in its multiyear transformation into an ultralow-cost carrier.
Cargill's latest profit fell 10% but demand for beef in the U.S. helped the company counter pressure from reduced global trade.

Americans' beef habit helped Cargill during this summer's trade uncertainty

Agribusiness giant reported its Q1 earnings Thursday with protein leading the way.
The agribusiness giant Cargill is restructuring its animal feed businesses.

Cargill reorganizes animal nutrition unit, adds health products to feed-oriented business

The moves should simplify product ordering for farmers, Cargill says.
Jeff Harmening’s first two years as CEO saw new trends in the industry that strain the agility of a behemoth like General Mills.

General Mills CEO Harmening's bold first-year bets are paying off

General Mills stock is up 25% from a year ago as Blue Buffalo is bolstering sales growth and U.S. cereal has regained the No. 1 market position.
Cameron's Coffee has been sold to Colombian conglomerate Grupo Nutresa S.A. Shown here is the company's coffee processing and packaging facility in Sh

Shakopee-based Cameron's Coffee sold for $113 million

The coffee roaster and distributor's headquarters and operations are to remain in Minnesota after sale to Colombian food conglomerate.
Improvements in U.S. snack and cereal sales will be especially important in General Mills hitting its long-term growth forecast, said the company's ch

Hiccups in General Mills' international business to blame for lower quarterly sales

Decline in quarter attributed to hiccups in international markets.
General Mills is recalling a batch of Gold Medal flour produced at a plant in Kansas City. File photo of a painting called "Gold Medal Flour" at a Min

600K pounds of Gold Medal flour recalled over E. coli concerns

General Mills urges consumers to toss out affected product and not to eat raw dough.