MDARD Presents 'Rising Star Award' to The Gluten Free Bar for Exporting Success

Agency: Agriculture and Rural Development

For immediate release: June 9, 2017
Media contact: Jessy Sielski, 517-284-5725

Lansing, MI – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has selected The Gluten Free Bar of Grand Rapids, Michigan, as the first-ever recipient of the 2017 Michigan export “Rising Star Award.” The award was presented today to company officials by MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams. The “Rising Star Award” was created to recognize a company that is new to exporting or is just starting to increase their exports into one or more countries.

“The Gluten Free Bar sets a great example for other small- and medium-sized companies as to the opportunities exports provide in generating more sales and growth for a company,” said Clover Adams. “Exports are critical to the Michigan food and agriculture economy, and companies like The Gluten Free Bar are a vital part of the growth.”

“We’re honored to be recognized by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development with the ‘Rising Star Award’ for our exporting efforts,” said Ben Wahl, partner at The Gluten Free Bar. “The company started in 2010 in an attempt to create a great tasting, high protein, and gluten-free snack bar using only simple ingredients.”

“Our mission is to make great tasting, nutritious snacks that everyone can enjoy, and that certainly applies across borders. We’ve had a lot of help since we started exporting in 2015, and we’re excited to continue our momentum in the years to come, which will ultimately add more jobs and positively impact our community here in West Michigan.”

The demand for gluten-free goods has been growing around the world. In the United States, the market for these products has more than doubled since 2011. Similar trends are being seen in Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, and other markets. The Gluten Free Bar has enjoyed growth of more than 100 percent in their exports in just one year and were able to create two new jobs because of their exports.

The award review committee consisted of representatives from Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith P.C., Van Andel Global Trade Center, Comerica Bank, Michigan Farm Bureau and Michigan State University’s International Business Center. The decision was based upon several factors, including marketing plans, ability to expand into new markets, alliances with other organizations, and exports sales growth over the last three years. To be eligible, the products must be more than 50 percent grown, processed or manufactured in Michigan.

MDARD also presents the “Michigan Exporter of the Year Award” to one of the state’s most accomplished food and agricultural companies. That award will be announced later this summer.

For more information, or to apply for MDARD’s exporting awards, visit or contact Jamie Zmitko-Somers at 517-284-5738.


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