Staff Directory 6370565

Kristen Leigh Painter

Reporter | Food industry
Phone: 612.673.4767

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
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.
Delta will begin booking passengers in middle seats starting next month. File photo of passengers in a Delta check-in line.

Delta to begin filling middle seats in May, restart other services

In a sign of confidence, the health-and-safety conscious airline to begin selling entire airplane and reopen lounges.
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.
Brian Sikes has been appointed chief operating officer of Cargill, a position that in the past has signaled a succession path to the chief executive r

Cargill's team of top leaders expands by 1, successor for MacLennan as CEO is seen

Brian Sikes, tapped as chief operating officer, tops a list of changing roles at the agribusiness giant.
Pillsbury soft-baked cookies roll out, as General Mills takes baking brand to another part of the grocery

Pillsbury soft-baked cookies roll out, as General Mills takes baking brand to another part of the grocery

The launch will have four flavors: chocolate chip, confetti, sugar and peanut butter.
Sun Country jets on the tarmac near its hangars at Minneapolis St Paul International Airport.       ] GLEN STUBBE • glen.stubbe@startribune.com

Sun Country reveals new details about IPO, aims to raise more than $200M

The locally-based airline will use some of the proceeds to repay an emergency loan from the government.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, shown speaking at the White House in March 2020, has openly invited the lawsuit from Dominion.

$1.3B defamation suit filed against Mike Lindell, MyPillow

Dominion Voting Systems' federal lawsuit over Lindell's repeated and discredited claims that Dominion helped steal the 2020 election comes after weeks of warnings from the company.
Hormel executives raised their profit and sales expectations for the rest of the year, even as comparisons are about to get tougher to the big gains i

Hormel CEO frustrated by lack of COVID-19 vaccine access for workers

Snee said some states have placed a priority on meatpacking workers, but he is 'incredibly frustrated' overall.
Delta will offer COVID-19 tests at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for passengers flying to Amsterdam.

Delta sets up rapid COVID-19 test at MSP for flights to Amsterdam

Delta will offer rapid COVID-19 tests to meet a new requirement from the Dutch government.
Hormel is buying the Planters nuts business of Kraft Heinz for $3.35 billion, the biggest purchase in Hormel's history.

Hormel makes its biggest deal ever, buying Planters for $3.3 billion

It's the biggest deal Hormel has ever made and will add more than $1 billion
Sun Country Airlines took the first step toward an initial public offering Monday. CEO Jude Bricker, in a file photo

Sun Country Airlines is going public, will list on Nasdaq

After a transformation, Sun Country reaches a turning point in its ownership.
Cargill said it accelerate closing plans for a salt mine on Avery Island, La., where two miners died after a roof collapse last month. (Photo by Scott

Accident at Louisiana salt mine leads Cargill to accelerate a closing plan

Cargill planned to begin closing the Avery Island salt mine later this year, but will do it sooner.
Twitter banned My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell late Monday, after earlier this month banning President Donald Trump from its platform. File photo of Lindel

Lindell: Twitter ban won't stop his claims of election fraud

Twitter 'permanently suspended' the Minnesota-based promoter of election conspiracies and pillows.
Sun Country announced new routes from MSP to summer vacation destinations, as executives expressed hope for a travel rebound as the coronavirus vaccin

Sun Country sees travel rebound ahead, plans 16 new routes

The Minnesota-based leisure airline is banking on the vaccine distribution and rapid COVID testing to jumpstart air travel again.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, shown in a 2020 file photo, says he’s more concerned about election results than the effect of his fight on his company.

MyPillow's Lindell shrugs off distancing by retailers, presses election fraud claim

Mike Lindell said Tuesday he continues to believe voting machine maker, other countries swayed Trump's loss.
Sun Country does a big business with winter leisure travelers heading to warm-weather destinations, including many outside the U.S.  File photo by Gle

How Sun Country, other airlines will handle the new negative-COVID rule on international flights

If you go out of the country and hope to come back after Jan. 26, you'll need to show a negative COVID test result.
General Mills suspended political donations to federal lawmakers who voted last week to override the results of the U.S. presidential election.

General Mills withdraws support from those who voted against certifying election

The Minnesota-based food company suspends politician donations to any member of Congress who voted to undermine the Electoral College results.
UnitedHealth Group is buying Change Healthcare for $13 billion, adding to its software and data services business.

UnitedHealth Group to buy Change, a health tech firm, in $13B deal

The deal, one of the largest by UnitedHealth, gives a substantial boost to its OptumInsight business.
Edina native Nick Green was recently named a 2020 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Thrive, the online-grocery and consumer-goods company.

Edina native and CEO of online grocer named entrepreneur of the year

Nick Green co-founded Thrive, following his mother's healthy eating advice from his childhood.
Nick Green, co-founder of fast-growing Thrive Market, is an Edina native. (Provided photo)

Edina native and CEO of online grocer named entrepreneur of the year

Nick Green co-founded Thrive, following his mother's healthy eating advice from his childhood.
University of Minnesota Agronomy and Plant Genetics graduate student Dorothy Kirsch (above right) and her field drone on St. Paul campus. She is worki

On the day the U remembered Borlaug's Nobel Peace Prize, another food innovator won it for 2020

It has been 50 years since Norman Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize for developing a high-yield, disease-resistant wheat that saved an estimated billion human…
As workers served patrons at Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville on Wednesday, Dec. 16, Gov. Tim Walz’s address was broadcast in the background. Restaurants

Three more restaurants defy COVID restrictions, face sanctions

The Interchange in Albert Lea, Cornerstone in Monticello and The Pour House in Clarks Grove have joined a growing list of eateries defying the order.
Fousseny Cisse, 15, cleared fields on a cocoa farm in the Ivory Coast in 2001, far from his home in Mali.  The cocoa business is notoriously rife with

Courts may decide if Cargill, Nestle can be sued over child labor

U.S. Supreme Court justices may step into a clash over human rights and the reach of U.S. companies in foreign countries.
Ninth COVID-19 inmate death in Minnesota prisons

Ninth COVID-19 inmate death in Minnesota prisons

70-year-old man is the fifth inmate to die of the virus at the Faribault prison.
Cargill is temporarily closing a beef processing plant in Canada after a new outbreak of coronavirus among workers.

Cargill temporarily idles Canadian beef plant due to COVID-19 outbreak

The outbreak in Guelph, Ontario, adds to a new series hitting North American meat plants.
General Mills experienced another quarter of outsized sales and profits as it benefits from the stay-home lifestyle caused by the pandemic. But with v

General Mills continues riding the stay-at-home wave, prepares for post-pandemic life

The Golden Valley-based food maker still posting sunny earnings results as Americans eat at home, but is eyeing a return to normal.
Ernie Micek

Former Cargill CEO Ernie Micek dies at 84

Ernest "Ernie" Micek had a knack for multiplying time — or at least that's the only way those close to him can explain all that…
Delta is eliminating fees for changing plans on most international ticket bookings. It's the latest sign of the effort by airlines to encourage people

Delta Air Lines permanently eliminates international change fees

The Atlanta-based airline is expanding its flexible rebookings as it hopes to lure customers back during uncertain times.
John Killen, who had led WinCraft, will become a senior vice president for hardgoods at Fanatics.

Fanatics buys Winona-based WinCraft, maker of clocks, can coolers and snack bowls with sports logos

The deal gives the nation's top sports apparel maker a deeper reach in licensed products.
Jim Campbell farms out of Iowa County, Wis., and sells milk to Organic Valley. The organic dairy industry hopes to move forward under a new presidency

Minnesota organic dairy farmers hope to regain ground under Biden

Organic Valley's CEO is cautiously optimistic for industry despite the loss of powerful Rep. Collin Peterson.
Cargill Inc. headquarters in Minnetonka. (Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune)

Cargill argues in front of Supreme Court in child labor case

A 15-year-old lawsuit alleges Cargill and Nestlé abetted child slave labor on cocoa farms in W. Africa.
Cargill Inc.'s headquarters in Minnetonka.

Cargill makes another investment in fast-growing wellness sector

Cargill is hoping to quickly ramp up its ability to offer its food and beverage customers ways to incorporate functional wellness attributes into products.
It’s only the third time in Forbes’ 35-year history of ranking America’s private companies that Minnetonka-based Cargill wasn’t the largest.

Cargill loses title of largest private company in U.S.

The Minnetonka-based agribusiness was supplanted by Koch Industries on the Forbes annual list.
Hormel Foods Corp. missed earnings expectations and delivered an unforeseen revenue decline for the quarter ended Oct. 25.

Hormel Foods reports lackluster results as COVID continues to takes its toll

Shuttered restaurants and closed schools continue to dampen sales for the Austin, Minn.-based food company.
Passenger volume is expected to be about 65% below year-ago levels during Thanksgiving week at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. File photo

This week could be busiest for airports since the pandemic began

Passenger volume at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is expected to be 65% below last year's Thanksgiving week.
Amy Sinclair, Executive Director of Thielen Foundation, handed out turkeys at East St. Paul Worship and Service Center of the Salvation Army.

Jennie-O partners with football star Thielen's turkey giveaway

Player's foundation helps to provide 2,000 birds to Salvation Army this year.
SunOpta Inc.’s plant in Alexandria, Minn., where it produces oat milk and other products.

In a major slimdown, SunOpta sells its organic ingredients business

Edina-based organic products firm sells off ingredients business.
For the past 12 months, which includes several pre-pandemic months, cold-cereal sales in U.S. retail rose 7.7% — with General Mills rising 9.5% and

Minnesota food companies rejoice: Cereal's not just for breakfast anymore

With many not rushing to the office during the pandemic, breakfast cereal is back in vogue, and Post Consumer Brands and General Mills are reaping the benefits.
A heritage turkey from the Blue Gentian farm near New Richmond, Wis.

With rituals upended, Minnesotans rethink Thanksgiving

Sarah Branion's seven-year Friendsgiving streak is coming to an end.With her extended family all living in Minnesota where she grew up, she and her family…
Husband and wife Robert and Nancy Herron of Lake City were the first voters in line outside at the polls Tuesday at Florence Town Hall in Frontenac. �

Amid high stakes and record early turnout, Minnesota voters reflect as polls close

Minneapolis turnout surpasses 2016 as line stretches four blocks in Farmington.
Beth Ford, CEO of Land O’Lakes, in a 2019 file photo. The cooperative’s profit rose sharply in the third quarter, shaped by demand for butter and

Home bakers bought more butter, lifted profits at Land O'Lakes

Land O'Lakes benefited from COVID lockdowns.
The 2020 U.S. elections are flush with cash, much of it coming from corporations.

Minnesota's biggest companies open their wallets to political candidates, and risk

Political giving is a two-edged sword as companies often lose control of where their cash goes.
General Mills has decided that its office workers in North America won't have to return to their workplaces until next May.

General Mills office workers will stay home through May 2021

The decision, announced this week, affects its office workers throughout North America, including 3,500 at its Golden Valley HQ.
MBOLD is more specifically aimed at addressing global problems that threaten the food supply chain in the future.

Big local companies, U, others form group to tackle food challenges

Called MBOLD, the coalition is focused on sustainable growth of the food industry.
Pilgrim's Pride will expand its plant in Cold Spring, a move that will lift its employment there by about 10%.

Pilgrim's Pride will expand Cold Spring plant

The chicken processor will add 130 jobs at the plant when the addition is complete next spring.
Lenny Daniels was inducted in the Bartender Hall of Fame in 1986.

Hall of fame bartender Lenny Daniels dies at age 98

His wide lens and warm heart helped his reputation as a genuine listener who drew people of all ages.
Sun Country jets on the tarmac at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport at the airline's maintenance facility.

Sun Country downsizes HQ staff, 18 receive notices

Most jobs were eliminated by attrition, but 18 employees were directly affected as airlines across the globe are suffering due to the pandemic.
General Mills is featuring LeBron James on its Wheaties boxes.

LeBron James latest athlete to be on Wheaties boxes

General Mills will feature NBA star's social-justice, athletic accomplishments.
Delta Air Lines says it will retire more aircraft earlier than planned, including 91 Boeing 717s like the one shown here.

Delta to retire another 17% of its plane fleet earlier than planned

Airline reacts to financial pressure from pandemic.
Mary Emma Heaps of Kalamazoo, Mich., waited for a flight with her daughter Mercy, 8, Wednesday.

As workers wait for more federal aid, Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport's long-term fate rests with Delta

Few industries have been more devastated by the global health crisis than aviation.
Revol Greens has raised $68 million in new capital, bringing its total investment to more than $200 million for giant greenhouses in Minnesota, Califo

With $68 million in funds, Minnesota's Revol Greens to expand in Texas

The Owatonna-based lettuce company is bringing its indoor greenhouse model to the Lone Star State and California.
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 continues to grow in pandemic, executives aim to make it last

The Golden Valley-based food company says it's capitalizing on a "once-in-a-generation" opportunity to get new customers.
A few dozen people gathered outside General Mills headquarters to protest the company's operation of a plant in an industrial zone in the West Bank.

Dozens protest at General Mills HQ over company's plant on West Bank

The activists say the foodmaker's factory supports Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
Delta Air Lines will resume long-haul international flights at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport next month, with four roundtrips a week to A

Delta will resume long international flights at MSP, first with Amsterdam

Delta will resume flying route four times a week, starting on Oct. 25. MSP is now averaging 288 daily departures, down from 500 a year ago.

Cloquet Carlton County Airport gets $1.2M grant to expand pilot training facilities

The expansion is expected to reduce program's five-month wait time by more than half.
Anne and Al Klein, who farm using regenerative practices, near Freeburg, Ill.

Cargill joins regenerative agriculture movement, sets goal for 10 million acres

Cargill says it can help farmers reduce risk in crucial early stages of regenerative farming practices.
Delta Air Lines says it has a way to keep its front-line ground workers and flight attendants employed without furloughs. The airline may need to redu

Delta won't furlough flight attendants, ground workers

The airline says it may still have to reduce its pilot corps.
General Mills has seens gains in the cereal market during the pandemic.

Key for General Mills is to keep market-share gains from pandemic

As the health crisis wears on, consumer behavior appears to be moderating.
Delta joined the nation's other two giant airlines, American and United, on Monday by dropping fees for changing flight plans. The fees, ranging from

Changing your flight plans? No charge, the big airlines now say

The pandemic-induced collapse in travel demand hastened end of roundly disliked charge.
Workers unloaded a Prime Air jet after it landed at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Sun Country’s deal with Amazon is helping the airlin

Why Minnesota-based Sun Country is outperforming rest of airline industry

Decisions made in March, such as flying cargo for Amazon, are paying off.
Hormel headquarters in Austin, Minn.

Hormel's sales soar at grocery stores, drop at restaurants

As Americans settle into life during a pandemic, Hormel's product mix is being reshaped.
Hormel CEO Jim Snee

Hormel offers two-year college benefit to employees' children

The benefit is offered to employees' children in an effort to combat racial inequality.
Thomas Fahling

What a Crystal man did with a sudden windfall in his account this spring

Front-desk clerk stunned to find $150,000 in PPP funds in his account.
Delta Air Lines says it will continue to keep middle seats open in its planes, effectively reducing capacity by nearly one-third, for the rest of the

Delta says it will keep middle seats blocked for the rest of the year

The dominant carrier at MSP is operating at a lower capacity in hopes of limiting the spread of coronavirus.