Meet Battle Creek’s “Rock Star” of Food Jeff Grogg
Quite a few “food industry” insiders will tell you the same thing about Battle Creek’s Jeff Grogg. “He’s a rock star!” And he sort of looks like one. Grogg says that might be because he let his hair grow. That’s not all that’s growing. His “Snackwerks” food company in Battle Creek is expanding, and his company JPG Resources just moved into a new office, at 62 East Michigan Avenue in downtown Battle Creek, most recently the location of Grace Health.
Grogg, who was a guest on the 95.3 WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins, came to Battle Creek to work at Kellogg’s not too long after earning a degree in food science at Purdue University. After a while, Kellogg acquired “Kashi” and Jeff took the upstart brand to the next level, and then some! Grogg even appeared in some of the commercials for Kashi, touting great tasting natural ingredients.
Grogg worked at Kellogg about 18 years, working on Corn Flakes, Rice Krispy treats and eventually spent about 9 years working on the Kashi brand. Kashi was a success at a time when Americans were just starting to take a different approach to choosing their food. Now, nearly two decades later, it’s clear that habits have changed.
“Yeah, it just continues to grow,” said Grogg. “People want to know what’s in their food products, they want to know what they’re eating, they want to be able to relate to what they read on a label, and be able to see and pronounce the things that they’re eating. There’s been a heightened awareness of what’s in food products and how people want to eat.”
Grogg says even 20 years ago when he worked at Kellogg’s, they had some very healthy products in the pipeline. But he says, “In bigger companies there’s pressure to launch big things that will be big right away, and smaller companies chase niche’s more and are more willing to be patient.”
Fast forward a few years to JPG Recourses, Grogg’s food consulting company in Battle Creek. Grogg says they have 42 people, many with experience in the food industry, helping clients take an idea and making it successful. “We develop strategies in building a business plan and a business model. We have product developers that actually make the products and others that design the supply chain and make sure the foods are safe and are going to last on the shelf and all of those kinds of things."
In addition to JPG Recourses, Grogg runs Snackwerks, a contract manufacturing plant off North Avenue near Roosevelt, which is nearing a 3 year anniversary. They make products that go to Costco or Meijer. Right now, Snackwerks has 35 employees and expect to have 50 by the end of the year. They’re launching another line and adding another shift.
JPG has moved into a historic building downtown thanks to the help of a lot of folks. “We’ve had a lot of help from John Hart and the Downtown Development folks, and Grace Health has been fantastic and we’ve been supported by Chemical Bank and the Northern Initiatives Fund, the new fund set up for development in downtown. We’re thrilled to be part of the renaissance downtown in Battle Creek.”
At the opening of the building on Tuesday, a few products that came out of JPG were on display.
“Cask and Kettle” makes ready to brew hot cocktails, like “Irish Coffee” and “Spiked Dry Cider” that actually have alcohol. Grogg says they idea came out internal jokes about making meetings “better” with little something extra in the coffee.
“Junkless Foods” makes simple granola bars with “no fake stuff added.”
“Juicy Leaf” sells cold pressed natural juices and Cleanse Packages.
Check out this photo of the building at 62 East Michigan Avenue in 1940.