Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year Award - Now Accepting Applications

Contact: Jamie Zmitko-Somers 517-284-5738
Agency: Agriculture and Rural Development

Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year Award Logo


Now Accepting Applications for the 2019 Agriculture Exporter of the Year Award!

2019 Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year Award Application

2015 Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year AwardEach year, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) recognizes Michigan's leading exporters in the category of Food and Agriculture products. MDARD does this by awarding a Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year award to a deserving Michigan company. This special honor can bring further success, signaling to international buyers a company's quality and commitment to exporting.

Companies of all sizes are encouraged to apply. The winner of the Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year Award is selected on the basis of export growth, innovation, and the pursuit of new export markets.


Michigan food and agriculture producers, manufacturers or shippers of good reputation and good standing in the business community, who are aggressively pursuing international markets and increasing export sales, are encouraged to apply.

Products must be over 50 percent grown, processed or manufactured in Michigan. Companies with headquarters in other states but production facilities in Michigan are invited to apply on the basis of their Michigan-made exports. Past recipients of the "Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year" award are eligible to apply five years after their initial award if they have increased their exports or expanded into new markets.

Dr. John's Candies Receives '2018 Ag Exporter of the Year Award':

Dr. John’s Candies of Comstock Park was selected as the recipient of the “2018 Michigan Agricultural Exporter of the Year” award. The award was presented to company officials by Gov. Rick Snyder.

“We are honored to be the recipient of the 2018 Ag Exporter of the Year award,” said Debra Bruinsma, Co-Founder of Dr. John’s Candies. “We never dreamed a dentist and a dental hygienist looking for a better alternative for our patients could grow a cottage business into an internationally sought-after brand of candy that provides nutritional benefits and fights tooth decay.”

Since 2000, Dr. John’s Candies has had significant export success. The company’s sugar-free lollipops, hard candies, caramels, and taffy are currently exported to Canada, Germany, Korea, Japan, China, and New Zealand. Dr. John’s Candies has been able to export 22 percent of its annual sales and create two Michigan jobs due to its exporting activities in 2017.

Past Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year Award Recipients:

“Receiving this award is a reminder of how much Bayside Best Beans has grown -  and continues to grow. We are proud of all the member owners who had the dream to make Bayside what it is today and the hard work our employees have put forth to help us achieve this growth. We are honored and excited to be selected as Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year.” - Brad Witek, General Manager, Bayside Best Beans 

“Star of the West is pleased to be recognized with the 2015 Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year award. This award is a reflection of the Star’s commitment to partner with food producers and processors to provide quality flour, edible soybeans and dry edible bean products to help feed the world.” - Arthur Loeffler, President, Star of the West Milling Co.

"We are honored to receive this prestigious award after just our second year of operation.  MDARD has been a key partner in not only our business development, but our achievements as well. This award truly illustrates the dedication of our team of owners, management and employees working together to produce 'Gold Star Quality Product' for the global marketplace." - Steve Cooper, COO/General Manager, Continental Dairy Facilities, LLC


The 2018 Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year Award Winner, Dr. John's Candies

2018 Exporter of the Year - Dr. John's Candies

Pictured (left to right): Director Gordon Wenk, MDARD; Dr. John Bruinsma, Dr. John’s Candies; Governor Rick Snyder, Debra Bruinsma, Dr. John’s Candies; Jamie Zmitko-Somers, MDARD; Michael McDonald, Dr. John’s Candies.

Read the full press release about Dr. John's Candies award here