Optimism in covering grain-based foods
BakingBusiness.com, Feb. 1, 2013
by Morton Sosland

Once again, in this annual report to our readers and our advertisers, the publishers of this magazine and owners and executives of Sosland Publishing Co. express satisfaction and even a degree of happiness with the year that closed and the outlook for 2013. The editors are well aware of how different our opinion is from similar assessments by other companies engaged in fulfilling the information needs of specific segments of the food industry.

A few figures help explain why this company has a more sanguine outlook than many others in the same field. In the area of newspapers and general magazines, the almost universal complaint centers on loss of readers. For this company, 2012 witnessed a 17% increase in the total number of readers, a performance that in all likelihood ranks at the pinnacle. Particularly astounding about this growth is that it includes a 7% expansion in readers of our print magazines. That is an increase that also probably outperforms any other industry. It brings our print reader total to 260,000, a new high.

No new magazines were started or acquired to account for this increase, which was achieved solely by gaining readers for our eight primary print publications. Accounting for this record-setting result reflects two parallel strengths that deserve equal credit. The first is the dynamic nature of the food and grain processing industries we have chosen to serve. After all, Sosland Publishing Co. is about to enter into its 92nd year of publication, a record unmatched among trade magazine groups. An important reason for this longevity is the fundamental strength of flour milling and wholesale baking, which are the main sectors we serve.

One of the most challenging management responsibilities is the rapidly evolving need to achieve a balance between what is offered via print on paper and what is delivered online, mainly through the Internet. The figures themselves are compelling. The eight print magazines of this company in 2012 published an aggregate of 1.5 million pages. The number of website pages offered on the Internet aggregated 3.3 million. Through digital editions of the main magazines, as well as newsletters and other special entities, another 12.5 million pages were issued. All of those elements make up an aggregate of 17.3 million online and print pages.

Additionally, a program is under way to launch online redesigns for each of the major magazines, emphasizing expanded content while offering multiple ways of accessing various articles. A new platform named e-Source is being unveiled in early 2013. This online buyers’ guide will feature individual companies and their ingredients, equipment and other products and services offered to bakers.

Hardly anything has responded more dramatically to the industry’s own dynamics as well as the efforts of this company than the annual Purchasing Seminar, which marked its 35th year in 2012. Attendance rose to a record 800, making it a premier annual event in the food industry.

Recounting these few highlights of the past year prompts high praise for all members of the staff — those who labor to produce the articles and commentary for the print magazines and who join in ensuring that the fast-moving Internet and online services measure up to expectations. It definitely includes those who work with advertisers to assure the best possible results. Sure, it’s wonderful being associated with an industry that has all the excellent attributes displayed by grain-based foods. Yet, it also gives those of us engaged in producing this information great pride in being able to respond by presenting news and opinions in the clearest and the most informative manner.