Charlotte-based Citizens LLC Earns 2021 Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year Award

For immediate release: September 8, 2021
Media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724

Charlotte, MI - Today, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell celebrated Citizens LLC for earning the department's highest export honors for 2021. The company, headquartered in the rural community of Charlotte (Eaton County), produces food-grade Natto soybeans and grows 99 percent of its products in Michigan.

Citizens LLC

Pictured: Gary McDowell, Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, presents award to Citizens LLC.

"Companies like Citizens LLC are helping Michigan expand its footprint in the global trade arena. Michigan is primed for opportunity for the state's food and ag companies to make their mark internationally," said McDowell. "I'm humbled to be able to support and recognize them as the 2021 Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year."

Founded in 1996, Citizens LLC began exporting in 2005. Between 2019 and 2020, the company experienced a more than 4,000 percent growth in export volume with exports accounting for 13 jobs of the company's nearly 50 total employees.

Citizens LLC cites Michigan's ideal growing conditions, infrastructure, and commitment of producers in achieving the results of producing and exporting high-quality food grade Natto soybeans. Collaborating with Michigan State University, Citizens LLC has been involved in getting six Natto varieties approved for import in Japan. The company also exports to Korea and Vietnam.

"Citizens LLC provides high quality products to both international and domestic customers. Nattos and other non-GMO soybeans are processed at our world-class facility in Charlotte and travel from rail to ports and destinations around the world," said Bruce Wymer, Vice President of Food Grade Soybeans. "We strive to set the highest standards of quality and to help expand the world's consumption of super foods promoting health and longevity across the world."

The 2021 Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year award review committee consisted of representatives from Michigan State University, the U.S. Commercial Service, Comerica Bank, Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith P.C., the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and the Van Andel Global Trade Center. The decision was made based on export growth in the past three years, job creation from exporting, and ability to enter new markets.

To be eligible for this award, more than 50 percent of a company's product must be grown, processed, or manufactured in Michigan, and exports must have contributed a substantial amount to a company's overall growth. For more information on past winners and the International Marketing Program, visit: Michigan.gov/AgExport.

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Photo: Citizens LLC Earns 2021 Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year Award

Editor's note: Here is a link to a video for your use from the presentation: https://youtu.be/dmbvexBytH8