Friday, June 03, 2005

Consumers devour new magazines about food

Consumers devour new magazines about food
By Ellen Sweets
The Denver Post
June 1, 2005

Whether you're a dieter, gourmet, diabetic, chile pepper lover, carnivore, vegetarian, experienced cook or neophyte, there is a food magazine looking for you.
Where food aficionados once looked either to Bon Appetit or Gourmet to divine what hip thing was happening on America's tables, both have come up against niche competition over the years, from Saveur and Southern Living to Wine Spectator and Cooking Light.
Chris Allen, Cooking Light publisher, says his is now the largest food magazine in the country, with 1.7 million copies sold monthly -- compared with Bon Appetit's 1.3 million and Gourmet's 950,000.
"Eating healthier is no longer a trend," he says. "It is mainstream."
Samir Husni, known as "Mr. Magazine," is considered by many to be the world's leading authority on magazines. Husni, a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi, also heads Magazine Consulting and Research, a firm specializing in launching new magazines, repositioning established ones and packaging publications for better sales and presentations.
"Last year, there were 1,006 new magazines, and 105 of them related to food, from cooking for two to summer grilling, winter grilling, low carbs, cooking easy, cooking light and cooking for the diabetic. Food magazines are consistently about 10 percent of the magazine market," he says.
Val Weaver, editor in chief of Vegetarian Times, says her publication has come a long way since the brown rice, tofu, nuts and berries diet of the '70s hippie movement.
"Then along came 'Moosewood' and 'Diet for a Small Planet,' and the vegetarian movement hit its stride," she says. "But (vegetarianism) really went mainstream, especially once people realized that vegetarian food didn't have to taste bad."
But are people really cooking from these narrowly segmented, niche publications? Husni says there's no way to know that.
"Unless you use them regularly, and most people don't, food magazines are mainly something to whet your appetite without gaining weight," he says.
"We think people want to cook when it is fun or recreational, that's why Whole Foods (Markets) was so brilliant. Cooking needs to be fun because we're going crazy with everything else."

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