October 26, 2012
With a barrage of publications ceasing print editions and turning to online-only content, it comes as a surprise to see a new book enter the market. I should rephrase. It would come as a shock if the publication were a “traditional” magazine. Food Fanatics is a brand-new quarterly magazine introduced and backed by US Foods.
Although aimed at restaurant owners and operators, Food Fanatics reads much like a consumer magazine. Published and edited by Imagination, the content includes topics of interest both for the magazine’s target demo and for food enthusiasts. The publication touts itself as the “…go-to source for the foodservice industry and anyone truly passionate about food, food people and improving the bottom line.”
While the premiere Fall 2012 issue does include US Foods only features—a letter from the President and CEO, a Culinary Equipment & Supplies piece, etc.—the entire book is not an advertorial, the ads are not even solely US Foods. (A small portion of costs from producing the book is offset by ad revenue from outside companies.) Features include trend coverage, interviews with chefs and restaurateurs, plus recipes from well-known chefs such as Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto. Beyond print, Food Fanatics has a robust website—complete with web exclusives and downloadable issues—and a small social media presence.
Food Fanatics is another step to showcase the company as a leader and innovator in the industry. (The release of the first issue comes one year after US Foods changed its name from U.S. Foodservice.) In addition to being a branding tool, the magazine is also a means to market its more than 350,000 product offerings.
I see this as a smart move for US Foods. Advertisers have long tried to toe the line between ad and edit without much success (at least in journalistic-driven publications). With Food Fanatics, US Foods has control financially and editorially. They’re able to drive content topics beneficial to their marketing calendar. With content written by established food reporters, the first issue does this in a way that doesn’t scream US Foods advertisement. I’m interested to see how Food Fanatics fares and if other companies will follow suit.