KANSAS CITY, MO. — Progress toward the Sosland Publishing Co.’s (SPC’s) goals of advancing new initiatives and broad-based growth across many of our titles stand out among milestones in 2023. In this, our annual report to readers, we note that while most of the company’s legacy titles enjoyed growth over the past year, it was the performance of SPC’s newest businesses that stands out. Each of the company’s three most recently introduced titles — Pet Food Processing, Supermarket Perimeter and Dairy Processing — grew revenues by 20% or more in 2023.

Building on the company’s stable of live events was a priority in 2023, beginning with an increase of 33% in attendance at the company’s June Purchasing Seminar, continuing to rebound from the event’s interruption in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic. Months of planning preceded a recent announcement of SPC’s newest event, Pet Food Processing Exchange. While it is still nine months away, enthusiasm for the event became evident when sponsorships nearly sold out before the end of last year. The response bears testimony to the editorial leadership position established by Pet Food Processing magazine since its 2018 launch. Reflecting the extraordinary dynamism of the pet food market, the event will help industry professionals gain a greater understanding of industry trends and hone their strategies and execution around formulation, production and safety.

PFP in 2023 also produced processor perspective videos and on-floor videos at such tradeshows as SuperZoo and Process Expo. Beyond PFP, case study videos also were introduced in 2023 by Baking & Snack and MEAT+POULTRY. Food Business News and Dairy Processing introduced new webinars.

The growth achieved by other newer publications in 2023 also deserves sharing. Supermarket Perimeter enjoyed record growth in both print and digital sales, and Dairy Processing, completing its third year, saw folios increase in each of its six issues and revenue increase by nearly 25%.

Interviews of high-profile leaders of the milling, baking and associated industries and groups have been a mainstay of Milling & Baking News since its founding nearly 102 years ago, but 2023 was a particularly notable year in this regard. Reflecting major changes afoot or completed at numerous companies and other organizations, in-depth feature articles appeared about ADM’s milling business and Camp Hill, Pa., flour mill; Grain Craft’s new ownership; Kansas State University’s ambitious plans for the 21st century; and Star of the West Milling Co.’s distinctive business profile and commitment to the US flour milling business. Interviews of the top executive at Bühler, Inc. and the heads of purchasing at Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV offered a glimpse into how leading companies in the industry are addressing the challenges of climate change. Additionally, a multi-part profile of Arbor Investments appearing in this publication and Food Business News offered readers a rare peak into the world of private equity, focusing on a player that for decades has generated strong returns in a food industry many investment firms dismiss as too sleepy. The rich complement of interviews was a gratifying affirmation of the trust the publication enjoys with leaders of the grain-based foods industry, confidence MBN editors’ pledge never to take for granted.

Meanwhile, the publication’s online profile continued to grow as evidenced by reaching 8,500 LinkedIn followers. In what could be viewed as the opposite of the virtual world, MBN editors participated with “boots on the ground,” in multiple crop tours, offering readers an inside look at wheat and row crops growing last year in difficult conditions.

FBN, launched 19 years ago and published on alternating weeks with this publication, in 2023 sustained its leadership in the food and beverage publishing category, maintaining its position as the top website and top print magazine, with the largest social media presence in its category. Since the start of COVID, the publication’s fortunes largely have mirrored the consumer packaged foods industry. In 2020, Food Business News experienced stunning growth, paralleling the surge of at-home eating during the peak period of the pandemic. Just as the food industry experienced volume decreases in response to the continuing rebound in foodservice and institutional food channels as well as consumer pushback against food price inflation, Food Business News experienced softness in its market last year. Against this backdrop, FBN tapped into emerging food industry trends with the successful introduction of the Sustainable Solutions newsletter and enjoyed continued growth in its known audience, the largest in the Sosland Publishing Co. website universe.

Major feature stories were a hallmark of other SPC titles as well in 2023. For example, MEAT+POULTRY secured visits to high-profile plants, including Cargill’s beef plant in Dodge City, Kan.; Smithfield’s pork plants in Tar Heel, NC (the biggest pork plant in the world) and in Kinston, NC; as well as Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ plant in Enterprise, Ala., and Seaboard’s pork plant in Guymon, Okla. M&P, which for many years has worked collaboratively with Dr. Temple Grandin, made a brief appearance in a documentary about the celebrated expert on animal behavior and autism

Baking & Snack similarly enjoyed what its publisher called the “best year of plant features ever,” with stories covering Rotella’s Italian Bakery; Flowers Foods, Inc.; Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV and Alyoum Bakery, the largest baked foods company in Jordan. G. Michael Gude, long associated with B&S and other SPC titles, was inducted in March into the Baking Hall of Fame.

World Grain’s online presence was bolstered by a more than doubling of its LinkedIn followers to more than 15,000. The total was up from 1,700 at the start of 2022, when an effort to build the following was initiated.

Key to sustaining growth is ensuring that advertisers and advertising agencies are well served. Toward that end new software in the past two years has been developed to track the effectiveness of online advertising campaigns. A system automatically logging newsletters clicks to the websites provides a seamless authentication process giving readers a streamlined experience. Other investments were made to ensure user privacy is maintained.

Like many of our readers, Sosland Publishing Co. has strived to understand the “new normal” of its business in the aftermath of the pandemic. While it would be premature to declare the “all clear,” we are greatly encouraged by developments in 2023.

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