Reflections on what has transpired in the intervening years at both publications were prompted by the recent announcement Time Inc. will be acquired by Meredith Corp. Because the world of weekly news publications in the United States is a rarefied one, references to Time magazine have appeared from time to time in this, our traditional annual report to readers. Time made its debut in 1923, a year after the launch of The Southwestern Miller (the predecessor to Milling & Baking News/Food Business News).
The year 1973 in which the Journal article was published proved pivotal both for Time Inc. and Sosland Publishing. Time was preparing for its 1974 launch of People, the entertainment magazine regarded as the company’s most valuable property today. Sticking more closely to our knitting, Sosland in 1974 launched Retail Baking Today. It was the company’s first foray into what became a successful diversification strategy within baking, grain storage and handling, and meat and food processing, a strategy that has continued to serve the company well.
In 2017, many of the S.P.C. titles with roots in the 1970s and 1980s made important progress. Baking & Snack demonstrated its leadership in the baking operations field with stronger-than-budgeted advertising sales (a rarity in a post-IBIE year). Paul Lattan, Baking & Snack’s able publisher, is slated to become the next chairman of BEMA, in June 2019. World Grain coverage of the feed sector deepened with the addition of the Feed Quarterly in the print magazine and the Feed Miller update monthly e-newsletter. World Grain made strong gains in its online business, with monthly traffic growing to more than 100,000 page views together with double-digit revenue growth.
A strengthening digital presence was a theme across numerous Sosland publications in 2017. For instance, digital revenues at Meat & Poultry grew by 11 per cent, including a 29 per cent jump in e-newsletter revenue. Bake magazine made progress in 2017 in building its online presence, and Bake together with the Retail Bakers of America initiated National Bakery Day in September, a day set aside to encourage consumers to visit and celebrate their local bakeries (the 2018 date will be Sept. 14).
The continuing indispensability of Milling & Baking News was evident in an annual Baxter readership study reaching an extraordinary new high-water mark in which 97 per cent of readers said they have read at least three of the four most recent issues. Attendance of 858 at the 2017 Purchasing Seminar, a new record high, further cemented this event as the pinnacle of the year for grain-based foods purchasing executives and their suppliers. Corporate Profiles reached and solidly exceeded its budgeted revenues. The eye-popping online performance of Food Business News was sustained in 2017, with more than 5.2 million page views in the most recent 12-month period. Page views exceeded a half million in two of the last 12 months.
The introduction in 2005 of Food Business News as a biweekly companion to Milling & Baking News was prompted by the broadening range of customers, beyond grain-based foods, served by the ingredient and equipment suppliers who account for the largest part of our advertising base. It is a similar opportunity that is behind the pending introduction this year of Pet Food Processing. The first print publication launched by S.P.C. since the 1990s, Pet Food Processing initially will be published quarterly and will offer critical information about formulation and operational issues pet food manufacturers face as they strive to succeed in this dynamic and growing industry.
Enhancing and expanding our digital offerings will remain a principal focus at Sosland Publishing Company in the years ahead. Still, the bold decision to add a new print title at a time others in publishing have faltered is a source of pride and a reflection of the company’s undiminished confidence in our future and in the future of the industries we so proudly serve.