Nine decades strong in pledge to grain based foods

by Morton Sosland
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Note is proudly made that 2012 marks the 90th year of Milling & Baking News. Published weekly now in alternation with Food Business News, this magazine had its start in March 1922 with the first issue of what was then The Southwestern Miller. The never-missed commitment, through the amazing and, yes, wonderful history of the past nine decades to maintain a weekly publishing schedule is nearly without parallel in global magazine publishing. It is definitely unique in business-to-business publishing. Fewer than six publications in total around the world have been published weekly for this span of time. Thus do we count special our publication of nearly 5,000 separate issues, counting both weekly and specials.

Founded by members of the Sosland family and still owned and managed by that same family, the magazine owes its longevity to the way a hard-working staff found and has continued to cultivate common ground with the people at every level of grain-based foods. Choosing that industry as the one the magazine born in 1922 would serve is acknowledged as a fortuitous act that has been built upon in numerous iterations. Even as Milling & Baking News has earned a position of eminence, not just for its age but mainly for its quality in reporting and commenting, the owners have branched out to establish and build other magazines that focus on other important aspects of the food industry, in America and around the world.

This page in this issue each year has been devoted to a Publisher’s Report on how the magazine and its publishing company fared in the past year and what is in prospect for the year ahead. Marking the 90th anniversary will certainly receive great attention in the year ahead, including special issues as well as many other activities aimed at helping our readers and our advertisers achieve significant progress coincident with celebrating nine decades of publishing. These observances and celebrations will include all the magazines, e-newsletters, other electronic publications and video productions, plus services built on new technology. The magazine roster now includes Milling & Baking News, Food Business News, World Grain, Baking & Snack, Bake, Meat & Poultry, InStore, and Biofuels Business.

If there’s any key to our success, and there are no secrets in a company that has been active for so long a time, it is that every activity planned is first considered in light of how it will help the industry in total and individual companies and executives make progress. This focus goes beyond efforts to sell more hundredweights of flour and more loaves of bread in order to examine the best course for grain-based foods and its companies to follow in a world where change is occurring at speeds accelerating with each passing moment. The one central goal of this publishing enterprise is to provide assistance and guidance to the people and companies who look to us as a force that is single-mindedly focused on the industry’s success. No development, not even the wildly gyrating ingredient markets, not the awful conflicts between the administration and Congress, not rising food safety concerns, have prompted even consideration of a shift in direction.

No industries are more affected by the world around them, particularly matters like the state of the economy, employment levels, foreign trade, national debt and politics, than publishing and grain-based foods. Thus, each has felt the pain of the economic setbacks that began in 2008 and have persisted into the present era. Based on stock market performance and earnings, grain-based foods has done better than most other industries and has even performed well among sectors of the food industry. By well thought-out operating strategies and product and service innovations, the industry has succeeded when many other businesses faltered and even failed.
This publishing enterprise also did well in the face of the dismal economy and in grappling with the real revolution under way in publishing as represented by the “battle” between print media and the Internet. Distribution and sustainability issues that are central to the matters facing grain-based foods executives have equal weight in publishing, particularly that part dependent on a viable postal service. In contrast to what is widely reported about slippages in readership and advertising for magazines and newspapers generally, this company’s total subscriber numbers to our print magazines as well as advertising in the same held remarkably steady in 2011. At the same time, significant gains were achieved in on-line subscriber numbers and advertising volume.

Several publishing records merit attention. Subscriber numbers across all publications and on-line editions reached 280,000, while our 17 e-newsletters alone drew 368,000 registrants receiving a total of 31 million e-letters. Major growth occurred in custom publishing, for both individual companies and organizations. Webinars, offering programs via the Internet on a range of matters from new products to technology, drew increasing numbers of these inter-active programs. Videos that introduce marketing and production ideas, as well as ingredient and product advances, are being produced at a growing rate for a range of advertisers. The annual Purchasing Seminar, which marked its 35th anniversary, drew a record 710 registrants to Kansas City from an increasingly broad range of food companies, in both America and other lands.

As nine decades in publishing are noted in these pages in 2012, this magazine’s and its publishing company’s commitment to the people and industries it serves will only strengthen. As publishers who have been in the forefront of adapting to revolutionary changes in publishing technology, we promise to deliver news and comment in a manner you, our readers, prefer and want. This pledge reflects our confidence in the future of grain-based foods, a future with which we have joyfully marched together in all of the past 90 years.
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