I like our cover. I suspect a lot of you feel like those little steel balls in a pinball machine, getting bounced between bumpers of misfortune.
Some of you may need to Google what a pinball machine is, or was. We debated using Pac-Man or Space Invaders for the cover image – some might have to Google those names, too.
When I wrote my editor's page last January, it started with the assumption the pandemic was finally winding down. The column asked what will life and business be like post-pandemic?
So I was a little premature. Here we are, starting the third year of the Covid pandemic and there's still no end in sight. The Omicron variant appears much more contagious but also less severe than previous variants. Last year at this time, I don't think I personally knew a single person who had contracted Covid. This year, it seems half the people I know had it at some point and, with one exception, nobody was severely ill.
At least of this writing restaurants and theaters remain open, no food or beverage plants closed because of outbreaks and nobody is talking about lockdowns, shelter-in-place and panic buying. I hope all that is still the case by the time you read this.
Even if it's not over, the pandemic has presented the food & beverage industry with new challenges, three of which are there on our cover; more are discussed in our cover story. Actually, most of this issue is devoted to the challenges of the new year – in business, product development and plant operations.
Having survived the 1970s, and comparing the U.S. and Canada to places like Venezuela and Argentina, 6.8% inflation doesn't scare me. Paying 7% more for food? I can afford it, we've all been eating too cheaply for too long. And underpaying the people who make that food. The supply chain kinks will work themselves out.
It sucks to still wear a mask, to see some of my favorite trade shows canceled or reduced to virtual events, to put off a vacation in Mexico or Europe (again). But I'm still working, we just had feasts for Christmas and New Year's Day dinners and the football and hockey arenas are full of screaming fans. Life is good.
Two years of the pandemic have made us all stronger. So enter 2022 with optimism but a commitment to evolve with whatever the new year hands you.
Get your copy of the January digital issue of Food Processing
Speaking of evolving ...
Time does indeed march on, and we felt it was time for a little freshening. So this issue of Food Processing will look very different. More modern, more attractive, we hope.
For those of you even remotely familiar with typefaces, the font is sans serif, meaning it doesn't have the little "feet" you'd see on text from a typewriter (some of you will have to Google that, too). That's a small nod to those reading the digital edition of this magazine. On the computer or phone, serif fonts don't read as well as sans serif ones.
And while 2021 was a surprisingly good year for this old-fashioned, paper magazine, we are creating more and more content specifically for the digital world.
Yeah, all that fancy stuff. But rest assured, we still have a firm commitment to the magazine. It's the mother ship of all content. The showplace for our most important stories of the past month. It's more portable than a tablet computer, doesn't require a wifi connection or data plan and, if it does get wet, you don't have to pack it in rice for 48 hours.
Last year we increased the quality of both the inside paper and the cover. Despite postage increases, we still mail 50,000 of these things every month, versus 15,000 digital versions. Every new subscriber is asked if they want the print magazine or the digital version: 75% want it on paper. We continuously develop the best possible audience to receive those 65,000 paper and digital copies.
You're still here, and so are we. Let's both work toward a prosperous 2022.