Hail to progress made in last 30 years

by Morton I. Sosland
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So much present-day publishing punditry is aimed at forecasting the imminent demise of magazines printed on paper that this magazine considers itself not just proud but brazenly optimistic in noting its achievements as the 30th anniversary of its founding occurs this month. It was in October 1982 that the first issue of World Grain was issued as a monthly publication dedicated to enhancing the performance of executives around the world whose responsibilities center on the gathering, marketing and processing of grains. Right off the mark, let it be noted that very few publications launched in that year continue today and that the number of business magazines in this particular field or in any other field enjoying anything like the record that World Grain has attained are few and far between. Annual gains in revenues and in numbers of readers comprise just two of the measures that provide the basis for hailing what this magazine has achieved.

Credit for all the positives may be equally divided between the many positives derived from the grain business itself and the numerous contributions of the diligent staff. Current global production of grain is up 44% from the level of 1982, reaching 1.8 billion tonnes, compared with 1.248 billion in the year of the founding. Export trade has nearly kept pace, its current total of 265 million tonnes is up 39% from three decades earlier. Gains in consumption of grains in total have closely paralleled the annual crops, explaining the small changes in ending stocks as well as the narrow balance between supply and demand that accounts significantly for price volatility. It is the latter, particularly in crop years like the more recent, that has drawn the greatest interest, if for no reason other than the problems sharp price swings mean for consumers in some of the world’s poorer nations. As difficult as may be the operating environment when markets move as widely and as suddenly as witnessed in recent years, the grain industry has mostly benefited from such conditions. This has been done by adhering to the sort of careful management advocated by this magazine.

While trends in production, consumption and prices have played a hugely significant role in the past 30 years of this magazine, hardly anything has been more important than the expanding need for new and improved systems of handling and processing grain. Equipment manufacturers have been quick to appreciate the importance of doing everything possible to introduce new efficiencies and new technologies that will assure advances in the manner in which grain is transported and stored as well as in its processing into both food and livestock and poultry feed. Rapid growth in processing grains into various fuels to replace crude oil products has meant new system demands. Of all these developments, none has been more important to this magazine than the huge expansion of the wheat flour milling industry in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. As recorded in the pages of World Grain, this expansion coming about through new building and modernization of existing mills represents a new global record in flour mill building. Few food industries have recorded similar growth in the past century or longer.

Keeping in touch with this amazing record by one of the world’s most basic food industries is just one of the editorial challenges that the staff of this magazine has diligently pursued. Great effort has been expended to maintain awareness of all that is going on in the regions where milling expansion is most active. Yet, in the pursuit of these stories attention often centers on obtaining the sort of helpful information that serves the essential goal of enhancing the performance of the entire industry. By being careful in how news is handled and how feature articles are researched, the editorial staff heeds the dual goal of recognizing what has been done in a single facility while serving the information needs of readers around the world.

Nothing pleases the editorial staff more than to be told by a person calling on business leaders in distant corners of the world that they always see a copy of World Grain on the target’s desk. Sure, the 10,000 copies of the magazine that go in the mail with every issue provide important information. Special editions published in Russian, Chinese and Spanish language reach areas without English familiarity. The print magazine is being supplemented by a nearly equal number of readers served via the magazine’s website, which is updated daily. Buyers’ guides and directories are also important to the effort to assure that World Grain does everything possible to be helpful to both its readers and its advertisers.

When World Grain was launched 30 years ago, there was great hope as well as soundly-based expectation that the global grain and grain processing industry would benefit from a publication dedicated solely and uniquely to the industry. Not only have those expectations been realized, but thanks to the vibrancy of the industry itself, the rapidly expanding global need for the important foods provided by grains and, yes, the hard work and diligence of the staff, what was once a dream has been realized, making all of us both proud and pleased.