I understand the reasoning that tempers the enthusiasm of processors looking toward a new year. Concerns about regulatory hurdles, feed costs, food-safety threats, demand shifts and the overall rising cost of doing business are valid and well documented. Many of these are addressed in our annual outlook report in the pages ahead, with insight from our industry-leading editorial team. Speaking of the year ahead, editorial excellence and Meat&Poultry, there is a surplus of optimism emanating from our Kansas City headquarters. Thanks to a prosperous 2011, M&P’s publishers have made a significant reinvestment in what is widely regarded as the leading business journal for meat and poultry processors.

This investment starts with enhancements to the visual aspects of the print magazine and extends to new digital and online offerings. Beginning with the January issue, readers of the print magazine will notice a design facelift with “aired-out” features, commissioned photographs and more eye-catching covers.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, M&P introduced a new morning newsletter, the Morning Dispatch, to bring online readers the most-timely news of the day as opposed to headlines from the night before. M&P’s Morning Dispatch includes the most recent industry news stories as well as important market information, stock quotes and web-only columns from industry journalists readers have come to trust. Beginning next month, each Friday, Morning Dispatch subscribers will receive an audio news wrap-up of the week’s biggest stories from M&P’s most-tenured correspondent, Steve Kay. Kay’s “Friday Focus” will be a brief podcast of the most significant headlines with context and comments from the industry’s most authoritative journalist. Another new digital offering for 2012 is M&P’s new free App for iOS devices, including the iPhone and iPad. With a growing number of readers who occasionally choose to read the print magazine electronically, M&P now offers this alternative as a supplement to the industry’s only digital version of each month’s magazine for PC and laptop users.

Most importantly, however, is the behind-the-scenes and ongoing investment in key people who bring M&P readers more of what they have come to expect from the industry’s editorial leader. Earlier this month, the editorial team grew stronger with the hiring of Erica Shaffer, an experienced online editor dedicated to MeatPoultry.com. She will manage the content of M&P’s growing website and develop its social media presence while also contributing to the print magazine editorially. We’ve also increased budgets earmarked for the growing number of contributing editors whose industry expertise we feature in each monthly issue. This is an example of M&P putting its money where its mouth is, literally, when it comes to delivering the most relative industry reports and features focused on today’s news and tomorrow’s trends. This also ensures partnerships with contributors like Dr. Temple Grandin, Steve Kay, Jerry Karczewski and Steve Krut will be sustained for years to come, while making financial room for new correspondents as they become available.

Contrasting the cautious optimism held by many processors as they size up 2012, the publishing team at M&P is almost giddy as we collectively look down the road of the New Year. We’ve made it a point to embrace and incorporate change where it makes sense for the readers, while also staying the course when it comes to the aspects of the operation that have helped make it successful for many years. This marks my 12th year with M&P and while I am hopeful that processors have a prosperous year, I’ve never been so sure of M&P’s commitment to bringing readers the very best industry coverage in 2012. Happy New Year!