In his three decades of publications experience, Fred has seen many things come and go. This month, we had the pleasure of talking with him about the state of the industry and the publication segment.
1.) Tell us a little bit about your background and what advice you’d give to someone looking to break into the business?
I’ve been at The National Provisioner since March of 2022, so I’m still pretty new to the meat and poultry industries. I spent more than 24 years covering the fruit and vegetable industry prior to joining The National Provisioner, focusing on the buyer/distributor/retailer segments of that market.
In addition to learning about where food comes from, my career has offered me the opportunity to see the world, as I’ve reported on industry news and events from four continents. Before getting into trade publishing, I began my journalism career working at a daily newspaper for a couple of years.
If you want to break into the business, don’t be afraid to pay your dues. Entry-level writing jobs seldom pay well. But if you put in the work to learn the industry and make some connections, there are all sorts of opportunities to do some fun, interesting, and creative work—and have a fulfilling career.
2.) What are your readers most interested in, and what spaces seem to be getting the most traction?
Topics related to food safety are always high-engagement content for our audience. And while we cover the full spectrum of protein products (meat/poultry/seafood/alternative proteins), we have particularly strong engagement from our audience in the beef sector.
Serving a targeted business audience is very similar to a community newspaper in some ways. Processor profiles and company news receive a lot of views. People like reading about their colleagues and friends in the industry.
3.) Tell us about your transition to digital and what tools do you use to make sure that your content is resonating?
The National Provisioner went digital-only during the pandemic. While I think there will always be an audience for print done right (particularly for B2B), online is where the action is. The immediacy and opportunities for reaching an audience and getting their feedback are limitless.
We use Google Analytics along with some internal metrics tools to gauge immediate engagement along with longer-term trends.
4.) Independent Processor is an important segment for you. What is the condition of that space today and what makes it fun to cover?
There are many multi-generational family businesses in the Independent Processor space, and there’s almost invariably an interesting story behind those businesses’ founding and their growth path. Like larger processors, they’re trying to boost their efficiencies and find new markets through product innovation. I get to talk with a lot of smart, interesting people with a passion for creating delicious food.
5.) What makes you optimistic about the future in the protein industry, and what worries you?
It’s a cliché, but it’s true: People gotta eat. They may have to trade down to more affordable products, but there’s a bottom line degree of demand inflexibility for food. If you can’t afford the restaurant burger, you’ll cook one at home. With the industry’s commitment to innovation—whether its time-saving value-added products, new flavor profiles, etc.—there’s always something new to catch the consumer’s eye.
What worries me? From talking to processors, I think the biggest threat is the lack of labor and just the overall cost of business continuing to squeeze companies, especially smaller ones.
Stay tuned for our 5 Questions series of interviews.
Due to popular demand, DecisionNext offers a series of monthly interviews. We’ll catch up with influential leaders, movers, and shakers to get the pulse on the latest in the industry.
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