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
Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift during the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Chicago Bears football game on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023.

Two editors — one a Taylor Swift fan, the other a Travis Kelce fan — want to stop talking about it, but can't

Minneapolis Star Tribune editors take up the cultural conversation about the NFL, women fans and media hype ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Minnesota Vikings game.
Airport police responded to a Delta flight arrival from Tampa, Fla., on Monday

Delta changes SkyMiles program: Want status? Spend more.

Delta Air Lines is changing how travelers earn status, starting in January for travel in 2025 and beyond.
Signage for Cargill Inc.

Cargill posts record annual revenue of $177B, the most of any U.S. private company

The Minnetonka-based agribusiness giant records another banner year of revenue gains. It's the largest private company in America.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the plane crash that killed Precision Lens founder Paul

Owner of Bloomington-based Precision Lens dies in Montana plane crash

Paul Ehlen, who founded the Minnesota cataracts lens company, died on Tuesday upon takeoff of his World War II vintage aircraft.
Dave MacLennan, CEO of Cargill and one of Minnesota’s most globally influential/high profile leaders, gave his final interview in his office before

Cargill's ex-CEO 'DMac' reflects: 'The next 10 years will be far more volatile'

Dave MacLennan led the agribusiness behemoth through some of its most dynamic years of change, with the last three among the wildest in the company's recent memory.
Meet Evan Ramstad, the Star Tribune's newest business columnist

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

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

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 planes 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.
Suki Dardarian named Star Tribune editor as Rene Sanchez departs

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.
 It took Bricker three months to fit his classroom time into a busy schedule. He called it a humbling experience.

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

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 jets on the tarmac at their Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport headquarters.

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.
J & J Distributing, a fruit distributor in St. Paul that Jason Jaynes also purchased, shuttered operations in March.

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 delivers remarks on his plan to stop the spread of the Delta variant and boost COVID-19 vaccinations, in the State Dining Room of

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 again spread across much of northern Minnesota Thursday, this was the smoky view of the Highway 53 Virginia High Bridge

14% of Greenwood fire in northeastern Minnesota now contained

Cooler weather and light rain are helping ease firefighters' battle.
Delta Air Lines imposes fee on unvaccinated employees

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

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

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.
This is a display of General Mills Cheerios cereal at a Costco Warehouse in Homestead, Pa, on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

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.
Cow masks? Cargill tries methane-absorbing wearable device

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

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, executive director of Migizi with her husband, Samuel and youngest son, Solomon.

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 flight #2126 arrives at MSP Thursday in Minneapolis. ]

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.
Image of Sun Country Airlines planes.

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 headquarters campus Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016, in Golden Valley, MN.](DAVID JOLES/STARTRIBUNE)djoles@startribune PER REQUEST HERE ARE GEN

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.
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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."
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Summer bookings take off for Sun Country

In its first-ever quarterly report, Sun Country signals air travel is rebounding.
Twin Cities produce firms say new owner left them to rot

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.
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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.
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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.
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MyPillow sues Dominion, who's already suing MyPillow

The Minnesota pillow company says the voting machine company created financial harm by suing MyPillow first.
A pandemic problem no one has solved: Marine workers stuck at sea

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

Travel restrictions have seafarers stuck aboard ships or unable to leave countries.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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