Business Strategies

Editors Plate: Welcome to 2014, the Year of …

We may be at the start of a brand new year, but 2014 appears to hold most of the same issues and concerns that 2013 held.

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

That top headline isn’t just a matter of what we can fit in that space. I don’t know how to finish that sentence, and I suspect you don’t either. Or maybe every food processor writes a different ending to that statement.

Maybe there is a theme or big project for 2014 at your company or your facility. Maybe it’s your first Corporate Social Responsibility Report. Or an expansion or new plant. Perhaps a major new product is about to be launched.

Maybe you’re going to get that Global Food Safety Initiative certification. Or finally tackling those partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats in your formulation and on your ingredient statement. Or GMOs.

We may be at the start of a brand new year, but 2014 appears to hold most of the same issues and concerns that 2013 held. That’s no surprise, really. But how will you respond?

Our cover story takes a look at what we think are five important issues that most of the food industry will be dealing with in 2014. The aforementioned PHOs and GMOs are among them, and those two have some urgency this year. The other subjects we chose have been around a while and will stick around a while, but merit some serious consideration this year: globalization, private labeling and convenience.

The U.S. and Canada and the rest of the world have crawled out of recession, and the food and beverage industry seems stronger than ever. While pundits can debate the weakening of the middle class here in the States, that demographic appears to be growing in developing countries around the globe. Many of those people have either an existing fondness or a curiosity for things American; and in the food and beverage category, they know no product in the world is safer than those stamped Made in the U.S.A. And now they have the money to Buy American.

Our annual Manufacturing Trends Survey provides more cause for optimism. Most of the barometers of a healthy year in the plant are up, at least slightly. 51 percent of our plant operations readers believe salaries will increase during the year (up from 41 percent last year at this time); 74 percent foresee production increasing (73 percent last year); and the subjective “How do you feel…?” question found 67 percent starting the year with optimism – up 6 percentage points from last year and a tiny bit ahead of the pair of 66s in 2010 and 2011.

We expect a healthy year for our magazine, as well, after a 2013 in which our advertising pages grew by 34 to the highest level in the recollection of anyone here. And more ad pages meant more editorial pages. Which meant we were delivering more content every month to you.

For 2014, we have designed-in an additional page of one of our most popular monthly features. Rollout will be followed by Rollout Focus, with a look at new product activity and consumer trends in one category of food and beverage products. This month, it’s gluten-free. Next month it will be Valentine’s Day products. March will feature condiments from the Specialty Food Association’s Winter Fancy Foods Show. And so on.

Here’s to growth for all of us in 2014!