Yes, there's a different face on this month's Editor's Plate. It's a change that has been under way for five months now.
I'm the guy who took the bag of guacamole potato chips at one of our company cook-outs this summer. The single-serve bags of salty snacks included the usual assortment of potato chips (regular and barbecue), corn chips, and pretzels. But there also were two or three bags of "Cool Guacamole" potato chips from Lays. Actually, someone opened a bag before me and left it sitting there on the picnic table. Apparently the green tint of its contents frightened off whomever opened it, as well as some subsequent diners. Not me.
What I lack in culinary sophistication and general discrimination, I make up for in being adventuresome. Likewise, what I lack in experience at FOOD PROCESSING and in the recent history of the food manufacturing industry I make up for in deep experience a few years ago.
There are a few readers out there with whom I've already reconnected--readers I knew from my nearly three years at Prepared Foods magazine or my five years at Dairy Foods, where I was editor in chief. I'm not saying things haven't changed in the three years I've been writing about subjects other than food, but the core issues--developing new products, keeping the plants running and eking out a profit in a business with razor-thin margins--remain the same.
And that's where we can help. The main goal of this magazine is to provide information that can help you do your job better. It's the last true "horizontal" in the food industry. That means we go to readers in every food category, from baked goods to vegetables, as well as to the complete food company team: product development, plant operations, management and sales and marketing.
It's a magazine that has won numerous awards from national journalistic organizations. One honor that was never explained is the gold ribbon that has graced the top of our cover logo since last November. "2003 Eddies Gold Award Winner" refers to Folio magazine's annual editorial awards program, in which FOOD PROCESSING took top honors in the foodservice category. FOOD PROCESSING also has won numerous writing awards from the American Society of Business Press Editors.
All of them, the Eddy included, are not my doing, of course. The credit is due Managing Editor John Gregerson and News and Trends Editor Diane Toops (who has been with FOOD PROCESSING 10 years). We also have an extraordinary stable of monthly contributing editors featuring Jack Neff (who specializes in business stories), Kantha Shelke (who anchors our ingredient coverage), Hollis Ashman and Jacqueline Beckley (who together analyze recent product introductions), John Stanton (who writes Market View), attorney David Joy (regulatory columnist) and chef Marc Halperin (whose Culinary Trends department appears in every other issue).
This is much more their magazine than mine. They have collectively built it into the award winner that it is. I just get the opening word in every issue.
But not the final word. That belongs to you. The time you spend each month with this magazine is a passive vote of how you feel about it. But I challenge you to take a more active approach. One of my most fervent hopes is a lively letters page, where you can critique the magazine, debate the issues of the day and, most importantly, connect with colleagues and competitors at other food companies. And while we don't have a guest column yet, I promise to find room for one for the first person who steps forward with a compelling 500-word opinion on a subject.
I talked to dozens of you while researching our annual Manufacturing Survey story in January (yes, I've already been alerted to the GMP violations our model committed on the cover), and received quite an education about the critical issues facing food manufacturing in this new year. I hope it's a continuing education.