For food and beverage companies looking to expand their business, Michigan and Iowa want you. Recently, these two states have made investments into their assets and offerings for manufacturers, particularly those in the food and beverage industry.


West Michigan is already home to many agribusinesses such as Gerber Baby Products, Cole’s and La Colombe, but it is preparing for more. The Muskegon County Wastewater Management System (MCWMS) has an excess capacity of 30 million gallons a day, which could be attractive for food processors.

“The region is able to encourage both local industries to expand as well as attract new industries to the region that need wastewater treatment,” says Mark Eisenbarth, Muskegon County Administrator. “MCWMS uses a land treatment process encompassing 11,000 acres of aeration and settling basins, storage lagoons and irrigated cropland.”

Michigan has particularly seen more dairy processing investment in the area. Last year, Continental Dairy, a global exporter of nonfat dry milk, announced with Fairlife a combined $173 million expansion.

“There’s been a big push recently for dairy because of national growth and Michigan’s cow capita, which already produce more than enough milk to supply the entire state,” says Jonathan Wilson, Economic Development Manager at Muskegon County.

The state is known for its diversity of products it grows, from apples to cucumbers. However, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development recently worked with market research company, Euromonitor International, to identify some of key segments of the food processing industry that would be a good fit for the state. It ranked the following as the best opportunities for Michigan:

  1. Dairy 
  2. Baked Goods
  3. Confectionary
  4. Beer
  5. Processed Meat and Seafood
  6. Savory Snacks (potato chips, etc.).

“Also happening in Michigan is the West Michigan Shoreline Food Processing Initiative, which…seeks to grow West Michigan's food processing capacity and turn Muskegon into a key agricultural port for those goods,” says Wilson. “The initiative is working toward goals of an industrial park, food processing education, product incubation and logistics.”


Michael Foods, a $2 billion manufacturer and distributor of food service, food ingredient and retail offerings and the nation's largest processor of value-added eggs, has selected Norwalk, Iowa for a new $85 million regional manufacturing and distribution facility. It’s the largest manufacturing plant to locate in Greater Des Moines in 10 years. Over 150 jobs are expected to be created.

“We looked at numerous locations in the Midwest, and Norwalk had many advantages,” says Steve Schonhoff, senior vice president of integrated supply chain for Michael Foods.

It’s not the only food producer to expand in the Des Moines area; in recent years the following have also expanded here: Loffredo Fresh Produce, Capital City Fruit, Atlantic Bottling, Mrs. Clarks, LaQuercia and Purfoods.

“The state is first in the nation for egg production with 13.6 billion eggs produced per year, according to USDA,” says Stacie LoVan, project director of economic development at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “DSM beat out competition from across the Midwest to land this project.”

LoVan says key to Michael Foods site selection decision is Greater Des Moines’ central location with access to major interstates and highways.

“Having a certified shovel-ready site was also crucial,” Lo Van adds.