Agriculture/Food Processing

Food processing in Southwest Michigan dates back to when the area was first settled by European inhabitants in the early 1800s. The area’s rich fertile soil earned it the nickname “The Celery City” when Dutchman Cornelius De Bruin began growing celery in the black muck along the banks of the Kalamazoo River and his family began peddling the vegetable door to door.

With the invention of the corn flake in Battle Creek by W.K. Kellogg in 1906, the region’s ability to take a product from raw material and process it into another terrific edible form was established. Today, many of your family’s favorite brand name cereals, beverages and potato chips all come from here!

The area’s microclimates and rich soil also contribute to its ranking as the Bedding Plant Capital of the World. Home to the largest plant growers’ cooperative in the region, over 8.5 million square feet of growing area is coordinated from the region.

From food to medicines, our expertise is committed to making things taste great. In the early 20th century, 90% of the world’s supply of peppermint was grown in the region. Today, our extracts and flavors make everything taste great from toothpaste and medicines to condiments and spices.

Our microclimates and soil combination support over 200 commodities on a commercial basis making Michigan the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation:

  • Southwest Michigan produces almost one-third of Michigan’s total agriculture sales
  • Over 19,000 employed in food processing with $423 million in labor income
  • Over 60 food processors serve the nation
  • Major brands include Abbott Laboratories, ConAgra Foods, Kellogg Company, Minute Maid, Monsanto, Post Foods and Welch's
  • International Food Protection Training Institute
  • Major regional contributor to Michigan’s Overall #2 ranking in agricultural diversity which includes:
    • #1 in blueberries
    • #1 in tart cherries
    • #1 in pickling cucumbers
    • #1 in squash
    • #2 in dry beans, carrots, celery and plums
    • #3 in apples with over 590 million pounds produced in 2010
    • #3 in asparagus
    • #8 in milk cow production with 8,327 million pounds of milk produced in 2010
  • Bedding Plant Capital of the World
    • Kalamazoo Valley Plant Grower’s Cooperative serves a 33-state region and contributes to Michigan’s #2 ranking in the nation for bedding and garden plants
    • #2 in nation for bedding and garden plant production
    • #3 nationally in value of wholesales sales of floriculture products
    • #1 in geranium and petunia flats
    • #1 in begonia and geranium hanging baskets
    • #1 in potted geraniums
    • #2 in sales of propagative floriculture materials for bedding and garden plants
  • West Michigan is #4 in the nation for wine production
  • Southwest Michigan microbreweries, Bell’s Brewery and Arcadia Brewing Company, are ranked among best in the nation.

Top Regional Employers

Food Processors Sector Location
Adkin Blue Ribbon Packaging Company Blueberries South Haven, MI
APL Logistics Distribution / Warehouse Coloma, MI
ConAgra Foods, Inc. Meat Processing Quincy, MI
Coloma Frozen Foods Fruits and Vegetables Coloma, MI
Freestone Pickles Pickles Bangor, MI
Fresh Solution Farms Potatoes White Pigeon, MI
Hanson Cold Storage Freezer Warehouse Hartford, MI
Harrison Packaging Co., Inc. Pickles Kalamazoo, MI
Honee Bear Canning Asparagus Lawton, MI
Flamm Pickle & Packaging Company Pickles and Relishes Eau Claire, MI
Frito Lay Incorporated Potato Chips Paw Paw, MI
JB Dough Company Bread Doughs Benton Harbor, MI
JBS Packerland Meat Products Plainwell, MI
Kellogg Company Cereal and Wellness Foods Battle Creek, MI
Knouse Foods Cooperative Inc. Cherries, Asparagus, Peaches, Raspberries, Apple Sauce, Apple Juice Paw Paw, MI
Lotte U.S.A. Inc. Chewing Gum and Snack Foods Battle Creek, MI
Mastronardi Produce Tomatoes Coldwater, MI
Mennel Milling Company Flour Dowagiac, MI
Michigan Blueberry Growers Blueberries Grand Junction, MI
Minute Maid / Coca-Cola Fruit Juices Paw Paw, MI
Monsanto Farm Supplies, including Seeds for Alfalfa, Canola, Corn, Cotton, Sorghum, Soybeans, Sugar beets and Wheat Constantine, MI
Old Europe Cheese, Inc. Cheese Benton Harbor, MI
Pero Packing & Sales, Inc. Packing and Crating of Fruits and Vegetables Benton Harbor, MI
Pioneer Sugar Sugar Various
Post Division, Ralcorp Holdings Cereals Battle Creek, MI
Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc. Milk Processing Battle Creek, MI
The Blueberry People Blueberries Grand Junction, MI
Tremendous Fruit Farm Fruits Eau Claire, MI
Van Beek Nutrition, Inc. Custom Premix Minerals to Livestock Operations Schoolcraft, MI
Walther Farms Potatoes Three Rivers, MI
Welch’s Fruit and Vegetable Canning Lawton, MI
Research and Development Sector Location
A.M. Todd / WILD Flavors Flavor Technology Kalamazoo, MI
Covance, Inc. Food Testing Battle Creek, MI
International Food Protection Training Institute Food Safety and Testing Battle Creek, MI
J. Rettenmaier USA LP Research and Development for Fiber Designs and Solutions Schoolcraft, MI
Kalsec Natural Colors, Flavor Extracts, Antioxidants, Hop Extracts and Nutritional Ingredients for Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Industries Kalamazoo, MI
Vestaron Corporation Insecticide Research Kalamazoo, MI
W.K. Kellogg Biological Station & Research Farms Various Research Projects Richland, MI
Microbreweries Sector Location
Arcadia Brewing Company Microbrewery Battle Creek, MI
Bell’s Brewery, Inc. Microbrewery Kalamazoo, MI
Galesburg, MI
Wineries Sector Location
Contessa Wine Cellars Winery Coloma, MI
Domaine Berrien Cellars Winery Berrien Springs, MI
Fenn Valley Vineyards and Wine Cellars Winery Battle Creek, MI
Free Run Cellars Winery Berrien Springs, MI
Hickory Creek Winery Winery Baroda, MI
Karma Vista Vineyards and Winery Winery Coloma, MI
Lawton Ridge Winery Winery Kalamazoo, MI
Lemon Creek Winery and Fruit Farm Winery Berrien Springs, MI
Round Barn Winery Winery Baroda, MI
St. Julian Wine Company Winery Paw Paw, MI
Tabor Hill Winery Winery Buchanan, MI
Floriculture Sector Location
Kalamazoo Valley Plant Growers’ (KVPG) Cooperative 50 Growers serving 33-state region over 8.5 million square feet of growing area Kalamazoo, MI
Kalamazoo Flower Group Marketing Arm of KVPG Kalamazoo, MI
Michigan State University Extension Program Research and Training support Various Locations
Floriculture Suppliers Sector Location
BFG Supply Company Biotechnology Products, Polythene film products, Packaging and Propagation Trays, Crop Protection and Growth Regulators, Professional Media Comstock, MI
East Jordan Plastics Containers and Propagation Trays South Haven, MI
Fabri-Kal Thermoformed Plastic Packaging Kalamazoo, MI
Michigan Grower Products, Inc. Custom Fill Containers, Mixes and Growing Media Galesburg, MI
Sun Gro Horticulture Quality Mixes, Peat Moss and Fertilizers Quincy, MI

Average Wage By Occupation 

Food Processing Average Hourly
Mean Wages
AO Food Processing Workers $9.23
First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Production & Operations $25.87
Helpers-Production Workers $11.75
Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers & Weighers $16.83
Office & Administrative Support Occupations $15.09
Office & Administrative Support Workers, All Other $14.68
Office Clerks, General $13.26
Packaging & Filling Machine Operators & Tenders $13.58
Packers & Packagers, Hand $10.43
Production Occupations $16.15
Production Workers, All Other $14.57
Production, Planning & Expediting Clerks $19.95
Purchasing Managers $44.34
Customer Service Representatives $15.69
Agriculture and Forestry Average Hourly
Mean Wages
Farm Equipment Mechanics $9.01
Farming, Fishing & Forestry Occupations $11.56
Farmworkers & Laborers: Crop, Nursery & Greenhouses $9.60
Farmworkers: Farm & Ranch Animals $9.47
Technicians Average Hourly
Mean Wages
Biological Technicians $13.83
Chemical Technicians $19.34
Life, Physical & Social Science Occupations


Medical & Clinical Laboratory Technicians $16.78
Scientists Average Hourly
Mean Wages
Biological Scientists, All Other $26.69
Chemists $30.79
Logistics Average Hourly
Mean Wages
Transportation & Material Moving Occupations $14.84
Transportation, Storage & Distribution Managers $40.54
Truck Drivers, Heavy & Tractor-Trailer $19.22
Truck Drivers, Light or Delivery Services $13.57

Source: Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, Annual Average Regional Metropolitan Statistical Area Hourly Mean Wage, 2012