Staff Directory 6370565

Kristen Leigh Painter

Deputy Business Editor | Business
Phone: 612.673.4767

Kristen Leigh Painter is deputy business editor.

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
Evan Ramstad, a deputy business editor, starts as business columnist on Jan. 1,

Meet Evan Ramstad, the Star Tribune's newest business columnist

Ramstad, a native Iowan, has worked as a reporter and editor for 35 years.
Brian Sikes will become the Cargill’s next chief executive in January 2023.

Cargill names a new CEO: Sikes to succeed MacLennan on Jan. 1

Brian Sikes will take over the top post of America's largest private company from Dave MacLennan, who has held the role for the past decade.
Bright Health has its headquarters in Bloomington. The management team includes UnitedHealth Group veterans.

In major retreat, Bright Health halts individual health insurance coverage

The Bloomington-based health insurer will halt individual coverage in 15 states and reduce Medicare Advantage plans to just California and Florida.
A BNSF train rolled through BNSF’s St. Paul Intermodal Terminal on Wednesday evening in St. Paul.

Minnesota farmers, businesses relieved after rail strike averted

The state has one of the most robust freight rail systems and use in the nation, moving tons of iron ore and agricultural and food products within and across its borders.
CHS HQ in Inver Grove Heights. CHS Inc. is is the country’s top-grossing agriculture co-op.

CHS boosts member payout to $1 billion, four times higher than last year

Soaring prices on oil and ag commodities lifted the finances of the co-op and its member farmers.
Cargill Inc. headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn.

Cargill posts annual revenue of $165B, its most ever

The Minnetonka-based agribusiness giant's revenue soared 23% in a year marked by "extreme events."
Cargill Inc. and other poultry operators agreed to settle a Department of Justice lawsuit filed Monday alleging the companies conspired to suppress wa

Cargill settles DOJ suit to clear path for $4.5B chicken deal

The U.S. Department of Justice filed antitrust lawsuit against Cargill, other chicken companies alleging wage suppression. Both sides agree to settle, clearing the way for new joint venture.
Farmer John Lee closes the door to his tractor before working in his field.

Black Americans are acutely underrepresented in farming; Cargill is working to change that

The agribusiness is attempting to bring more minority farmers into the supply chain through price premiums and new market opportunities in hopes of reversing historical discrimination.
Sun Country jets on the tarmac at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport at the airline’s maintenance facility.

Final Four organizers say Sun Country canceled team welcome space at last minute

When hometown airline Sun Country backed out, Delta Air Lines stepped in to provide a hangar and charter flights for some of the women's Final Four teams last week, organizers and the airlines said.
Hoses hung from an irrigation system in a wheat field during the summer 2021 harvest on a farm in Tersky village, near Stavropol, Russia.

Cargill scales back in Russia, continues food operations

The Minnetonka-based agribusiness is straddling the geopolitical fence as public pressure to withdraw from Russia grows. The agriculture behemoth is one of the largest non-Russian exporters of Russian wheat and owns a complex of mills south of Moscow.
Shipping cranes at the Port of Mariupol, one of Ukraine’s biggest commercial seaports, in a 2014 file photo.

From missile strikes to employee safety, Cargill, other Minn. companies, scramble in Ukraine

Minnetonka-based agribusiness giant, which immediately implemented its contingency plan in case of attack, said crew is safe after its vessel was hit leaving Ukraine port.
Vendors wait for customers at a farmers’ market in Odessa, Ukraine, last week. The country is one of Europe’s top agriculture producers.

Minnesota grain traders monitor conflict in ag-rich Ukraine

Minnesota agribusinesses make plans for their employees in Ukraine. Meanwhile, wheat and corn prices spiked as tensions grew.
Rene Sanchez, who is leaving to become the vice president of news and executive editor of the Times-Picayune/the Advocate/, will be replaced b

Suki Dardarian named Star Tribune editor as Rene Sanchez departs

Sanchez has held the top post at Minnesota's largest newsroom for the past eight years, leading the newspaper to a Pulitzer Prize in 2021.
Cargill Inc. headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn. (Anthony Souffle/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS) ORG XMIT: 1534571

Cargill makes biggest bioindustrial deal yet, spends $1B on unit of U.K's Croda chemical firm

The Minnesota agribusiness is buying the UK-based business to expand its industrial product offerings derived from plants.
CEO Jude Bricker posed in his flight attendant attire on a Sun Country plane at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

These Sun Country top bosses went 'undercover' as flight attendants

CEO Jude Bricker and COO Greg Mays got flight attendant certification to keep in touch with crews and passengers.
Jacinth Smiley will replace Jim Sheehan as chief financial officer of Hormel Foods Corp.

Hormel CFO Sheehan to retire, will be succeeded by Smiley

Jim Sheehan spent 43 years with Hormel, helping to guide corporate strategy and taking a conservative approach to its finances.
The deaths of thousands of chickens and turkeys before they reached Minnesota processors have drawn the attention of an animal welfare group.

Animal rights group accuses Minnesota's Jennie-O and Butterfield of mistreating birds

Animal Welfare Institute asks local county attorneys to prosecute firms where turkeys and chickens died in trucks.
Sun Country Airlines tapped Landline, which has been running a bus service from Minnesota cities to its terminal at MSP, to provide car service to and

Sun Country, Landline will offer car pickup and dropoff service to fliers in the Twin Cities

Landline will use four-passenger SUVs to shuttle passengers between their homes and the Sun Country hub at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Minnesota’s attorney general is suing the state’s largest egg producer, alleging price gouging in the early days of the pandemic. The company, Spa

State sues big Minnesota egg producer, accusing it of price-gouging in pandemic

Minnesota joins other states in suing egg producers, but Sparboe and other farmers wonder if prosecutors understand economics.
General Mills saw growth in sales over the summer.

General Mills continues its pandemic-era growth despite inflation, supply chain pressures

The Minnesota maker of Cheerios is still riding the pandemic's tailwinds despite Wall Street's concern over inflation and higher supply chain costs.
Tom Pyfferoen has around 200 head of cattle on his Pine Island, Minn., farm.

Beef prices are surging, but processors are benefiting more than farmers

Four companies control processing and distribution of 80% of U.S. beef, a choke point that is drawing scrutiny from Washington.
Cargill announced incentives for farmers to improve carbon absorption in soil.

Cargill establishes new carbon measures and money to farmers using soil health practices

Climate scientists, food companies and many farmers see the potential of a better soil health system, but debate how — or even if — large-scale farming can actually transition.
Sun Country, the only airline based in Minnesota, is adding more local foods to flights and refocusing sale efforts on its home market.

As new competitors arrive at MSP, Sun Country reminds Minnesotans that it's one of them

The Twin Cities airline is adding Caribou Coffee and other local foods as it counts on Minnesotans for growth.
A month after J&J Distributing shuttered due to mismanagement by its new owner Jason Jaynes, the sister fruit distributor, H. Brooks, laid off all its

Workers left in lurch after Twin Cities produce firm folds under new owner

H. Brooks Distributing in New Brighton collapsed this summer just a few weeks after another company, J&J Distributing in St. Paul, that had been purchased by the same investor.
President Joe Biden delivered remarks on his plan to stop the spread of the delta variant and boost COVID-19 vaccinations at the White House on Thursd

What Biden's vaccine mandate means for Minnesota businesses

Sweeping new federal regulations will require employers with more than 100 workers to require immunizations or weekly testing.
Hormel headquarters in Austin, Minn.

As Americans dine out, Hormel's restaurant sales surge

The Minnesota company raised prices in the spring to offset inflationary pressure on its supply chain, which boosted revenue this summer.
Minnesota State Patrol officers left the State Capitol grounds Friday following a standoff with protesters against Line 3 and other pipeline projects

69 arrested at Line 3 pipeline protest outside Walz's residence

Charges included third-degree riot and disorderly conduct.
Smoke from the Greenwood fire as seen through the Hwy. 53 Virginia High Bridge on Thursday.

14% of Greenwood fire in northeastern Minnesota now contained

Cooler weather and light rain are helping ease firefighters' battle.
Delta Air Lines is requiring employees who haven’t gotten a COVID-19 vaccine to pay a surcharge on their health insurance.

Delta Air Lines imposes fee on unvaccinated employees

MSP's dominant airline is stepping up efforts for a completely inoculated workforce now that the FDA has fully approved a vaccine.
Two of Nomi’s founders Austin Hinkle, left, and Will Handke handed out samples at a food expo.

Sales of 'grab-and-go' granola bars plunge as pandemic snacking turns salty

The market for snack bars took a hit as consumers reached for chips and ready-to-eat popcorn as screen time increased.
A rendering of SunOpta’s planned plant-based milk-processing facility in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Twin Cities oat milk maker SunOpta to build 'mega' plant in Texas

The Minnesota company will produce its full lineup of dairy-free milks at the new site in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Milk Specialities Global purchased Kay’s Processing, which makes gluten-free products at this plant in Clara City, Minn.

Milk Specialties Global buys gluten-free specialist Kay's Processing of Clara City

The Eden Prairie-based sports nutrition company has bought Kay's Processing, maker of gluten-free cereals, expanding its protein reach.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, left, walked with farmer William “Chip” Callister Thursday in what should be a knee-high third crop of alfalfa

Ag Secretary Vilsack visits drought-stricken Minnesota, pledges support for farmers

The visit comes amid a deepening drought afflicting cattle and dairy farmers and worrying some crop growers about next year's water levels.
A judge ruled that a lawsuit against MyPillow and founder Mike Lindell can proceed.

Judge says $1.3-billion defamation suit against Lindell, MyPillow can proceed

The U.S. District judge in D.C. denied request to dismiss lawsuits against Lindell and his allies Sydney Powell and Rudy Giuliani.
Norman Midthun

Norman Midthun, a WWII pilot for Norway who spent a career at Northwest Airlines, dies at 96

From a childhood of strife and hardship during the Great Depression, Norman Edward Midthun reached soaring heights. At age 20 he became personal pilot to…
Cargill Inc. headquarters in Minnetonka.

Cargill forms venture to buy a chicken producer for $4.5B

Cargill has chicken processing operations overseas, but its purchase of Sanderson Farms will put it in the middle of a U.S. industry that is red-hot right now.
Tyler Lorenzen is CEO of Puris Proteins and his sister Nicole Atchison is CEO of Puris Holdings. They are shown in the company’s Minneapolis headqua

How a Midwestern farm family found the power of peas and changed American food

Puris, now a leading supplier of pea protein in the U.S., started as a family-run provider of specialty seeds for vegetable growers.
Grain farmers will meet with the officials from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture this week to discuss the effect of the bankruptcy of Fridley-b

Pipeline Foods' bankruptcy creates headache for growers of organic grain

State agriculture officials are scheduled to meet later this week with farmers who may not have been paid for crops after Fridley-based Pipeline Foods declared bankruptcy.
Hammerschlagen, a game involving hammering nails into stumps for fun, is often associated with Oktoberfest, beer and German heritage. A Stillwater com

A dispute over Hammer-Schlagen in Stillwater zeroes in on quirky game's origin

The trademark owner of the nail-and-stump game sued a restaurant for offering the game after a licensing deal expired.
Though it makes some of the oldest and most popular food products in the U.S., including Cheerios, General Mills has constantly reinvented itself.

At General Mills, a surprise restructuring in a moment of success

Big makeovers happen at General Mills fairly frequently. But this one was different.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport officials expect another jump in passenger traffic during the July 4th weekend.

As summer's second holiday begins, MSP is seeing the most passengers since before pandemic

Executives at the Twin Cities airport expect travel demand and flights to increase all summer.
Sun Country jets on the tarmac at their Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport headquarters.

Software outage creates delays on Sun Country flights

The Twin Cities-based airline contended with delays on many flights Thursday, but it was forced to cancel just a handful of them because of a technology breakdown.
Eating patterns during the pandemic drove sales of General Mills products to their highest level ever.

A year beyond pandemic surge, General Mills is still flying but not soaring

The Golden Valley-based company posted its best sales year ever during the pandemic, but is facing a return to a slow-growth environment for packaged foods.
The effects of the drier-than-normal June are being felt first by Minnesota’s cattle farmers, who have lost pasture grass to drought and must consid

Dry conditions are hurting Minnesota's cattle farms first

Nearly half the state's pastures are in bad shape after the drier-than-normal June, forcing cattle producers to consider other ways to feed their animals.
In this photo taken on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, Norwegian Red Cows are seen inside a farm in the village of Kozarac, near Bosnian town of Perijedor,(A

Cow masks? Cargill tries methane-absorbing wearable device

It's the latest experimental technology explored by the Minnetonka-based agribusiness as it seeks to reduce the environmental toll of livestock within its supply chain.
Mary Loeffelholz, the new vice president for MSP Airport customer service for Delta Air Lines, has been on a hiring spree and says a major constructio

Delta's new station chief works to build back MSP hub after pandemic

Minnesotan Mary Loeffelholz has been commuting to Delta operations in Atlanta and L.A. for more than a decade. Now, she's in charge at MSP and has big plans.
Cargill’s new joint venture began construction on a new facility in Eddyville, Iowa, where it will create a plant-based alternative to synthetic pla

Cargill backs corn as substitute for plastic, builds new plant in Iowa

The Minnetonka-based agribusiness is building a new facility in Iowa to create a corn-based alternative to petroleum-based plastics used in certain consumer goods.
Omar Ansari, founder and chief executive of Surly Brewing Co. in Minneapolis, said the chance to sell growlers from its brewery and restaurant means i

Minnesota's largest craft brewers make a last-call pitch to lawmakers for growler sales

For Surly, Schell's, Indeed and others, the issue is parity with smaller brewers that are allowed to sell beer for customers to take home.
General Mills employees learned more details on Friday about its latest plan to restructure and downsize.

General Mills may cut 20% of 3,000 employees at Golden Valley HQ

The food maker on Friday updated employees and investors on its restructuring costs and layoff targets.
General Mills is restructuring its biggest operating unit, leading to job reductions at its headquarters in Golden Valley. Nearly all its corporate em

General Mills cuts jobs, reshapes itself to prepare for post-pandemic change in eating

The Golden Valley-based food maker is cutting jobs at headquarters and streamlining business units as the outsized sales it saw during the pandemic come to an end.
Kelly Drummer with her husband, Samuel, and youngest son, Solomon. She is executive director of Migizi, an American Indian nonprofit providing media a

For Native nonprofit off Lake Street, resilience after destruction

Migizi executive director Kelly Drummer and her family coped with loss while processing the reasons it happened.
Minneapolis-based Mighty Spark is being purchased by outside investors with a track record of helping food companies grow. Here, Mighty Spark founder

Investors buy Minneapolis' Mighty Spark specialty meat company

Bay Area private-equity group Swander Pace Capital and minority partner Branch Brook Holdings made the purchase.
Alaska Airlines says it’s been wanting to add a nonstop flight from MSP to Anchorage for years. 

As Minnesotans return to the skies, a new fight emerges at MSP to take them to Alaska

Millions of Americans are planning getaways now that the pandemic is in retreat.
Hormel beat analysts’ forecasts with its latest results and executives raised their outlook for the rest of 2021.

Restaurants are buying bacon again, Hormel's surprising profit jump shows

Hormel's performance was helped by a turnaround in sales to restaurant and other businesses, a sign that Americans are beginning their postpandemic lifestyles.
Sun Country’s chief investor, Apollo Global Management, will reduce its stake in the Minneapolis airline from 72% to around 60% with a share sale th

Sun Country's main investor to sell part of its stake two months after airline's IPO

The private equity firm Apollo Global Management will remain the airline's controlling investor with about 60% of shares after the secondary offering.
General Mills is adding to its pet food business with the purchase of Tyson Foods’ pet brands, which include Nudges, Top Chews and True Chews.

General Mills buying Tyson Foods pet-treats business for $1.2 billion

The Minnesota food maker expands its presence in the fast-growing pet food aisle.
Spencer Silver, co-inventor of Post-it Notes at 3M Co., shown in a company photo taken in the late 1990s.

Co-inventor of Post-its, retired 3M scientist Spencer Silver, dies at 80

He earned 37 patents and won numerous awards and "was an artistic type of scientist."
Sun Country Airlines, reporting quarterly results for the first time, gave an upbeat outlook for summer. File photo of CEO Jude Bricker with one of it

Summer bookings take off for Sun Country

In its first-ever quarterly report, Sun Country signals air travel is rebounding.
J&J Distributing, a 43-year-old produce company in St. Paul, laid off its production workers on March 23. Two days later the doors on its Rice Street

Twin Cities produce firms say new owner left them to rot

Less than two years after a private-equity firm took over family-run distributors J&J Distributing and H. Brooks, one has closed and the other is imperiled by legal battles and unpaid debts.
General Mills will begin selling a new line of protein-rich, low-in-sugar yogurts.

General Mills aims new yogurt at people packing in the protein

Called Ratio Protein, the new yogurt uses ultrafiltered milk to cut sugar and raise protein.
Sun Country is adding more routes, including six new destinations from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Sun Country adds 18 new routes; will start flights in Duluth, Rochester

Six of the new routes are for winter travel to and from Minneapolis-St. Paul International.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is responding to a Dominion lawsuit filed against him and his company with a lawsuit of his own. (Sam Thomas/Orlando Sentine

MyPillow sues Dominion, who's already suing MyPillow

The Minnesota pillow company says the voting machine company created financial harm by suing MyPillow first.
At the peak of the crisis, about 400,000 maritime workers were unable to get off ships and get home, said the International Chamber of Shipping.

A pandemic problem no one has solved: Marine workers stuck at sea

Travel restrictions have seafarers stuck aboard ships or unable to leave countries.
CHS Inc. tumbled into the red after expenses in its energy business outweighed growth on its agricultural side. File photo of its office in Inver Grov

CHS posts a loss after costs rise for fuel credits

The farmers co-op saw growth on its ag side, but its energy business was hurt by sagging demand and higher costs.
Joe Ennen, chief executive of Sun Opta

SunOpta to open new Eden Prairie headquarters as it eyes growth

The plant-based food ingredients maker will move headquarters from Edina to make room for an anticipated grander future.
A bulk carrier ship of the kind that Cargill charters passed through the Suez Canal near Ismailia, Egypt, last week after a stuck container ship that

For Cargill's shipping unit, Suez block ended up as a minor challenge

Cargill had 13 vessels caught in the backlog when the Ever Given blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week.
Minnesota farmers had their most profitable year in 2020 since 2012, a survey by the University of Minnesota Extension showed. File photo of a corn ha

Minnesota farmers had most profitable year since 2012

The results became clear late in the year when commodity prices suddenly climbed after government aid rolled in.
Signage for Cargill Inc.

Cargill to officially exit sugar-trading business

The Minnetonka-based agribusiness sold its stake in Alvean, the world's largest sugar company.
A customer’s complaint about General Mills’ Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal went viral on social media last week, putting both the company and the cu

General Mills takes trip through social media grinder after man claims shrimp tails in cereal

Allegation over shrimp tails in cereal goes viral, then flakes out.
General Mills saw growing demand for premium pet food in its Blue Buffalo line, executives said as they announced the company’s latest results.

General Mills: More love for cats and dogs during pandemic fuels growth in pet food

The company said more time at home has led to deepening bonds with pets, making owners willing to spent more on premium pet food
After the two transactions, General Mills' yogurt business will be concentrated in North America rather than spread across continents.

General Mills to sell stake in Yoplait's Europe unit, increase control in Canada

The Minnesota-based food maker is swapping its European yogurt business for royalty-free control in Canada and U.S.
Faces of Sun Country employees beamed from a Times Square billboard owned by Nasdaq  before the company's shares started trading Wednesday morning

For Sun Country's IPO, investors make airline worth $2 billion

The airline will pay off a government loan and look at expansion with the proceeds of the IPO.
Under CEO Jude Bricker, Sun Country Airlines has solidified as a hybrid operator and significantly expanded its contract cargo business. aboard one of

Sun Country's next takeoff is on the stock market

The company will raise about $218 million after its shares start trading Wednesday.
Jamie Miller, new chief financial officer at Cargill

Cargill hires first female CFO in its 150-year history

Jamie Miller, former finance chief at GE, will join the giant agribusiness this summer.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell says he has spent more than $3 million on his election-fraud campaign.

Mike Lindell's biggest gamble: Giving hard sell to baseless election fraud claims

After a lifetime of big risks, the MyPillow CEO bet he could discredit a presidential election.