Fran Katz

In 1996, Food Technology got a fairly major facelift. The flow of the magazine was revamped, some new columns were added, and the type face was revisited. Well, it’s that time again. We’re introducing a few more changes, in keeping with the information gained by the most recent readership report.

Last time around, in 1996, you told us that you wanted fewer long articles, more color and open design, and more trends information. The survey completed last spring told us that, while you generally liked the redesigned magazine and most readers found the content useful, the food sector has gotten more complicated. Surveyed readers continued to want more trends analysis, but they also wanted more authoritative articles by experts, and case studies on technology applications. While brief news reports were requested by a little over half of the respondents, this was considerably lower than the number who wanted brief news reports five years ago. Interestingly, peer-reviewed research articles were fairly low on the totem pole of preferred formats, but articles by experts were fairly high.

The purpose of using a similar format for readership studies is to compare direction of a publication. The description of the profile of respondents captures a moment in time, and helps to explain differences in preference. The average respondent to this survey is male, age about 47, and specializing in R&D, science, or technical affairs. In 1996, the average respondent was 42.4 years of age. This average respondent spent a little more time reading an issue of Food Technology than was the case in the 1996 survey, and a little less time reading most of the trade magazines. More of the respondents consider Food Technology essential reading (86.7% compared to 82.2% in 1996.) A major difference is the topic of highest interest: in 1996, the topic of highest interest was consumer trends; this year, the topic of highest interest is new technologies.

Taking the advice of the consultants, tempered with editorial stubbornness spiked with good advice from the Publications Committee, Food Technology will reflect some additional changes this coming year. The survey indicated a desire for more interaction between Food Technology, the basic sciences presented in the Journal of Food Science, and timely information presented on the IFT Web site (www.ift.org). The use of electronic media has bloomed over the last few years: in 1996, 16.9% of respondents turned to the Internet several times a day; this year, 42.3% of the respondents tuned in repeatedly. Respondents noted a desire for Food Technology to be more international in scope, and to offer more diverse formats for articles.

Because Food Technology serves a varied constituency, some readers have specific needs. R&D professionals want more coverage of cutting-edge science, members who are primarily managers want more coverage of trends and business management issues, and academics want more coverage of scientific research reports. We continue to try to balance each issue so that everyone has some of the coverage they want most. This probably means that usefulness can’t be optimal for any one group. But we’ll keep trying.

So, here’s what’s coming up:

Developingfoods.com is a new section that will appear four times this year, presenting more original science combined with the development activity of new products and marketing interaction with R&D. The section will be posted to the developingfoods.com site on the Internet, as well as on IFT’s Web site. This section will present more variety in format, and will discuss new technologies and new science.

Regulatory Impact is a new column that will appear monthly, written by a trio of experts. It will explore how regulatory change will affect the food sector, and how changes in the food sector will affect the regulatory climate, in the long term as well as the immediate. This first column is written by Roger Clemens, and outlines the regulatory dilemma caused by the increasing knowledge of probiotics and their role as food or supplement. Other members of the trio are Douglas Archer and Stanley Omaye, who will present their views on emerging food issues throughout the year.

Web News, a new monthly column written by IFT’s Assistant Internet Editor, Lori Conley, will discuss new information and services on the IFT Web site, and help members use the Web facilities to gain information, make information alterations to keep their information current, sign up for meetings and courses, and submit abstracts.

Design. After four years, an updated publication almost always needs to be further updated. Some of Food Technology’s graphics are beginning to look a little cliche, so we are reducing the number of standup caps, toning down the color palette, and generally moving toward a somewhat more classic, understated look. Our Graphics Manager, James Baran, has been part of the team for nearly a year, and took on the redesign with taste and style. He also managed the move from traditional film-based plate making to computer-to-plate, which eliminates the need for film-based printing plates—a technical change that has improved print reproduction quality and reduces printing costs.

We hope the new Food Technology meets with your approval.

by FRAN KATZ
Editor