State companies push Michigan-made products

January 25, 2010
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LANSING — A few dollars can go a long way in supporting the state’s economy.

If every household spent $10 per week of its grocery budget on locally grown foods, about $37 million dollars a week would circulate within the state, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Meanwhile, public and private entities are promoting Michigan products and encouraging residents to buy locally to stimulate the sluggish economy.

For example, Michigan Tape Inc., a labeling company in Plymouth, makes stickers featuring a picture of the state and the words “Made in Michigan” or “Grown in Michigan.”

Chris Autterson, vice president of Michigan Tape, said the aim of the marketing effort, which began last April, is to get businesses to identify their products.

He said, “Sometimes people simply don’t know which products are made in Michigan and we want them to be able to easily identify those products.”

So far, the stickers have attracted many smaller businesses, such as S. Serra Cheese Co. in Clinton Township. Some larger businesses have also bought them. Faygo Beverages Inc., the Detroit-based soft drink brand, bought 20,000 stickers to place on bottles sold in the western part of the state.

Autterson said the effort isn’t focused on making a profit.

“We’re not doing this to make money,” he said. “We’re doing this to promote Michigan products. We want to tell people that instead of buying mainstream brands of things like pop and chips, to buy Faygo pop or Better Made chips.”

Some companies are also using more local raw materials.

Better Made Snack Food Co. of Detroit has been making potato chips, popcorn and potato sticks in the state since 1930.

President Mike Schena said the company tries to use Michigan potatoes.

“We use about 50 million potatoes a year and over 80 percent are from Michigan. We do use some from out of state, but that’s only during the months when potatoes here are out of season.”

Schena said Better Made employs 200 residents, and many of the spices and containers the company uses are local.

“We’re right here in the neighborhood,” he said. “We buy in Michigan, manufacture in Michigan and the money stays right here.”

Don Koivisto, director of the MDA, said he’s encouraged by the number of residents buying locally grown cherries, apples and other produce.

“We’ve seen people going into supermarkets and looking for our products,” he said.

“During tough economic times, Michiganians want to help Michiganians, and this is an easy way to do that.”

But Koivisto warned it’s important to make sure products that claim to be local are really Michigan-made.

“We don’t want to get abused,” he said. “We want to make sure that when we say a product is made in Michigan, it’s really made in Michigan. We try to keep a watchful eye on that.”

Michigan Tape is downsizing its promotion of “Made in Michigan” stickers, but Autterson said the company will continue to sell them through its thinkmichiganmade.com.

“We’ve slowed down and are focusing on other things right now, but are still very much committed to this cause,” he said.

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