No allergens, no problem: Consumers react positively to safer-eating foods

May 18, 2018 in Hot Topics-Food for Thought

NOTE:  The West Michigan Shoreline Food Processing Initiative is launching a “hot topic” discussion theme to its Stakeholder Briefings entitled “Food for Thought.”   The first topic will be discussed at the June 21 stakeholder briefing and focus on “Food Processing for Better Health.” Digital daily news letter FOOD DIVE ( has a series of articles on this topic in their May 17 daily newsletter.   The following is one of the articles.  


Megan Poinski, Author

Larger trends such as healthy eating, clean labels and non-GMO items give the segment a boost.

When Enjoy Life Foods was founded 17 years ago, their sweets and snack products — which are all free of the United States’ top eight allergens — were seen as niche items.

Today, Enjoy Life is completely mainstream. Consumers can find the Mondelez-owned company’s cookies and bars in most regular stores. And it is certainly not alone in its segment. Several new and old CPG brands are jumping on the allergy-friendly foods train.

Today, everyone thinks we were a genius. We weren’t,” Enjoy Life’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Joel Warady told Food Dive. “We saw the statistics and we just kept pushing the category. …We’re happy there’s competition out there because for years, we were #1 in a category that didn’t exist.”

Continue reading »

Frankfort dried fruit producer to expand into Wisconsin processing facility

May 8, 2018 in In The News

A Frankfort, Mich-based dried fruit producer is moving into a new processing plant in Warrens, Wisc.

Graceland Fruit Inc., a seller of dried blueberries, cranberries and cherries to customers in the U.S., is expanding into a 50,000-square-foot processing Wisconsin facility after entering an alliance with Wisconsin-based fruit cooperative Cranberry Growers Cooperative (CranGrow).

The deal will allow the company to increase its manufacturing capacity by approximately 30 percent. In addition to the expansion, Graceland Fruit will retain CranGrow’s 61 employees at its Wisconsin facility.

Continue reading »

FDA extends deadline for Nutrition Facts update by 18 months

May 5, 2018 in In The News

Author: Megan Poinski@meganpoinski

Dive Brief:

  • The Food and Drug Administration will extend the compliance date for the updated Nutrition Facts panel by 18 months, according to a final rule published in the Federal Register on Friday. Manufacturers with at least $10 million in annual sales will need to have the new label by 2020, and smaller manufacturers will need to have it by 2021.
  • The new rule also would make changes to what’s on the label. These include removing the declaration of calories from fat, requiring grams per serving of added sugars and adding a daily value declaration for sugars. It also would require updating the vitamins and minerals that could be included on the label, making calorie information more prominent, and making formatting and reference value changes.
  • According to the document, the FDA received about 50,000 comments on its proposed rule and deadlines. “After careful consideration, we have determined that extending the compliance dates by approximately 1.5 years, until January 1, 2020, or January 1, 2021 (depending on annual sales), would help ensure that all manufacturers covered by the final rules have time to use guidance from FDA to address, for example, certain technical questions we received after publication of the final rules. …. Additional time will also help to ensure that manufacturers have time to coordinate with various parties to complete and print updated Nutrition Facts labels for their products before they are expected to be in compliance with the final rulessition period during which consumers will see both the old and the new versions of the label in the marketplace.”

Continue reading »

High-Paying Trade Jobs Sit Empty, While High School Grads Line Up For University

May 3, 2018 in In The News

NOTE:   This article focuses on skilled trades which are the type of jobs needed within the food processing industry in addition to employees needed to process food products.    The West Michigan Shoreline Food Processing Initiative is working with Michigan State University, Muskegon Community College, and others to provide workforce training for all food processing related jobs.  

Heard on NPR All Things Considered


Like most other American high school students, Garret Morgan had it drummed into him constantly: Go to college. Get a bachelor’s degree.

“All through my life it was, ‘if you don’t go to college you’re going to end up on the streets,’ ” Morgan said. “Everybody’s so gung-ho about going to college.”

So he tried it for a while. Then he quit and started training as an ironworker, which is what he is doing on a weekday morning in a nondescript high-ceilinged building with a concrete floor in an industrial park near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Continue reading »

Center of excellence coming to the Finger Lakes

April 30, 2018 in In The News

State Sen. Pam Helming, R-54th District, recently secured $1 million in funding to establish the Center of Excellence in Food and Agriculture Innovation at New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva.

Centers of excellence develop and commercialize new products and technologies, promote private sector investment in high-tech fields, strengthen and grow workforce training and expand technology-related businesses and employment.

Food production jobs in the Finger Lakes increased 20 percent since 2010. The center’s goal is to promote economic growth throughout the region and state by making connections among researchers, farmers, processors, businesses and consumers.

Funding will provide entrepreneurship training, business mentorship and access to business space at Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park in Geneva. Participants will connect with commercial kitchens, food hubs and co-packing facilities. The center will foster collaboration and technical product commercialization assistance between Cornell research scientists and businesses to promote the use of technologies that define future farm and food systems.

Article is from the Daily Messenger   



West Michigan Shoreline Food Processing Initiative Launches Website

April 21, 2018 in Press Releases

Expanding “Farm to Table” Concept with Support of West Michigan Farmers and Food Processors and Unique Public-Private Collaborative Partnership

MUSKEGON, Mich., April 19, 2018 – A unique West Michigan-based initiative designed to significantly grow area food processing opportunities has “gone public” with today’s launch of its website:

“We are excited to officially launch our website today, inviting everyone to learn about this initiative and its remarkable potential to benefit West Michigan,” said Marty Gerencer, co-director of the West Michigan Shoreline Food Processing Initiative. “While we are going public today, significant work has already taken place to make this initiative a reality.”

Continue reading »

Frozen food is no longer just the sad refuge of dieters with office jobs

April 15, 2018 in In The News

Americans are warming up to frozen foods.

Consumers are eating more vegetables and protein, and their reservations about eating frozen foods — long dubbed an unsatisfying diet option or loaded with artificial ingredients — are starting to thaw. Meanwhile, frozen food companies are revamping their products to include more healthful, flavorful options. And while dishes like Mango Edamame Power Bowls or Sweet and Spicy Harissa Meatballs add an inventiveness to the freezer aisle, one of frozen foods’ chief attractions has stayed rock solid: convenience.

Continue reading »

Canadian dairy processor will create 62 jobs, invest $21.3M in West Michigan

April 12, 2018 in In The News

Agropur Inc. announced it will invest $21.3 million and create 62 news jobs over the next three years at its processing plant in suburban Grand Rapids.

Most of the $21.3 million expansion project at Agropur’s at 5252 Clay Avenue SW will be for new equipment with a portion going toward building modifications, according to news releases by The Right Plac Inc and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC).

Continue reading »

Table set for food initiative

November 24, 2017 in In The News

Plan aims to connect region’s natural resources, education and infrastructure assets to grow agriculture exports by 2020.

An ambitious plan is taking shape on the lakeshore to grow the region’s labor pool and expand product development and agriculture exports.

Continue reading »