Boldly forward in a year of setbacks, innovations | 2021-01-15

Even as the editors of Sosland Publishing Co. (SPC) worked diligently to report on the challenges facing the industries covered by our publications in 2020, our company encountered many obstacles during the “year”. pandemic ”. Like thousands of businesses, SPC sent almost all of its workforce home at the end of March. Our team had to learn on the fly how to remotely perform the multitude of tasks associated with researching, writing, editing, designing and selling the magazines we publish more than twice a week, as well as the dozens of articles online that we publish. and the many newsletters we send out every day. The effort was a success. It is no exaggeration to say that no publication deadline has been passed during the year.

While the magazines were produced and printed exactly as our customers expected, the same may not be true of our annual buying seminar. For the first time since the 1970s, purchasing managers and suppliers were unable to come together in person for what has become the premier annual grain-based food event. A virtual event helped our speakers spread the crucial information at the heart of this event, but there was no way to truly replicate the unprecedented networking that fuels the seminar year after year.

The pandemic also significantly slashed advertising revenue during the year with an alarming loss of activity at the height of the economic shutdown. Sales were much closer to normal in the final months of the year, and the company was able to end the year in the dark thanks to advertisers staying the course (appreciating the increased value of advertising at a time when meeting customers difficult) and because of cost savings from canceled trips and other expenses that have been cut due to the pandemic. The cost savings enabled the company to avoid any downsizing.

Despite the difficult year, some exciting initiatives were launched during the year 2020. Among the launches of 2020, there were Food entrepreneur in insertion six times in Food sector news. Capitalizing on FBN’s success in monitoring and reporting on food and beverage trends and startups, Food entrepreneur was well received and featured interviews with startup personalities such as Ethan Brown (from Beyond Meat, Inc.) and Andy and Rachel Berliner (Amy’s Kitchen) as well as profiles of many dynamic people behind emerging startups. In 2021, Food entrepreneur will grow with more electronic newsletters and special content in each issue of Food Business News.

A digital first in baking for Sosland Publishing in 2020 was “Since Sliced ​​Bread”, a podcast produced by Cooking & Snack. Produced in quarterly ‘seasons’, the podcasts feature interviews with Charlotte Atchley, editor-in-chief of the publication, from a wide range of industry leaders covering the most pressing topics facing the baking industry today. ‘hui. Attracting tens of thousands of listeners, podcasts have proven to be remarkably persistent, drawing an audience as large in the weeks, if not months, after the season ends in some cases as it does during the seasons. Meat + Poultry, which has been producing podcasts since 2018, expanded into space in 2020 with nearly 50 during the year.

“Since the Slice of Bread” was not the only area of ​​digital growth at SPC in 2020. Digital sales accounted for 35% of all advertising revenue for SPC this year, up from 28% in 2019. Digital sales for Food sector news surpassed print revenue for publishing, a remarkable milestone as business-to-business publishing continues its gradual but relentless migration to digital from print.

Growth in digital sales has reflected remarkable growth in traffic to SPC’s websites. Each of the company’s seven websites easily exceeded its earnings targets for 2020. As of December 28, had registered 1,960,311 pageviews, up 16% from the previous year. Other sites grew even faster with pageviews on up 54%. The readership was fueled by an intense interest in the challenges facing the meat processing industry, the extremely difficult decisions that industry leaders were forced to make in the face of the pandemic, and the massive resources that companies have invested in ensuring the safety of employees and the smooth running of operations. remained the most visited site, with pageviews up 27% and surpassing 7.6 million. In total, the webpages viewed in 2020 on all of SPC’s websites exceeded 15.6 million, up 31% and demonstrating the voracious appetite for timely information in the industries served by Sosland Publishing.

While the growth in pageviews has been remarkable, a major goal in 2020 has been to create the company’s ‘known audience’, visitors who have signed up and allow us to see the role readers play in industry. Out of a known audience of 131,197 at year-end in 2019, SPC set an ambitious growth target of 168,720 (29% growth) by year-end, but actually finished at 198,922 on December 28, a remarkable jump of 52%. Focusing on this larger group offers benefits to our writers as they refine coverage priorities and advertisers as they have a clearer picture than ever of who reads our articles and watches the ads. In order to meet the changing needs of advertisers, SPC welcomed Jim Saladin in 2020 as the company’s senior marketing director.

Major initiatives are in sight for 2021. Two years after the successful introduction of Pet food processing (which was the company’s first magazine launch in over a decade), SPC will introduce in the New Year Processing of dairy products, covering the multi-billion dollar dairy market. In addition to the magazine (with a first issue to be published in April), Processing of dairy products will have a dedicated website, e-newsletters and other digital products.

Closer to home, Mill and bakery news will undergo its first magazine redesign since the early 2000s. The redesign will be launched before the magazine and company’s 100th anniversary in 2022.

Like so many companies in the food industry, Sosland Publishing has suffered its share of setbacks in the past year, and it would be misleading to say that our business-to-business publishing company enters 2021 regardless. challenges ahead. Yet, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our remarkable staff and the investments we have made to meet the demanding expectations of readers and advertisers, we salute 2021 firmly committed to serving the grain-based foods and food processing industries to a level higher than ever. .