Editor's Plate: What Food Companies are On Top?

We give you our annual Top 100, and ask you for a Processor of the Year and topics for next year.

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

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The calendar may only say August, but for us it's time to think about the end of this year and the beginning of 2008. Actually, many of you are probably starting budget meetings for next year, so you know where I'm coming from.

Our annual Top 100© project always gets me thinking about these things. In addition to being a huge undertaking for us, the Top 100 is an incredible resource for you, but one that is only partially shared in these paper pages. This is the only list that goes across the entire food industry -- from baked goods to seafood -- with the most timely figures available. It focuses on only U.S.- and Canadian-made foods and only value-added products that, in one way or another, are ready for the consumer. Not all sales we count have to be packaged, branded food products ready for the grocery shelf, but they cannot be ingredients in some other company's finished product. At least that's what we strive for.

In addition to the big, 100-company table (this year there are actually 101 because of a tie) there's a huge database found only on the web; in print you're only seeing the tip of this very big iceberg. We've only given you two company profiles in this magazine as a sample, but we have profiles of all 101 companies on our web site. There you will see basic information such as address, phone numbers and web sites (hot-linked on our site) but also key executives, subsidiaries and divisions and -- this is one of the most intriguing facets -- brand names.

Even if you've used our web-based Top 100 data before, give it a look this year. We've bundled it in a truly Star Wars (does that show my age?) package that's interactive, complete with Flash animation and the ability to open several pages simultaneously. Browse the Top 100 table and click on a company name in it and … flash … you'll go directly to its profile. Click on any company's web URL and you'll open the company's web site in another window. The link to the Top 100 will be obvious on our home page, or click on "Special Reports" in our top navigation bar.

As an overall story, the Top 100 brings into clarity which companies had good financial years and which ones suffered the slings and arrows of being in the food processing business. Which brings me to my next subject: It's time for us to start searching for a 2007 Processor of the Year. We devote much of our December issue to this one, stellar company, and we'd like your help in picking it. Our criteria for a Processor of the Year are: sound financial performance (including expanding sales and profitability), innovative product development, leading manufacturing technology, managerial excellence, general industry leadership and service.

Simply put, if you can think of a food or beverage processor that's firing on all cylinders, nominate that company. It could be your own company -- don't be shy -- but it's for food and beverage processors only. We have a link set up on our web site's home page for this, or give me an e-mail or a phone call.

Finally, let's look way ahead to all of 2008. We've just begun creating our editorial calendar for the year, kind of a road map of all the stories we will be doing next year. Each month we look at general food industry trends and timely issues in product development and ingredient technology, marketing, plant operations and packaging. Please suggest a couple of stories for us to pursue next year. Same mechanism as above -- either contact me directly or use the same web-based polling mechanism we have set up for our Processor of the Year voting.

All these pleas for feedback and interaction are not limited to this one time of the year. We always appreciate letters, e-mails and phone calls. So stay in touch.

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