Media Analysis: Food mags cater for UK obsession

Fresh is the latest food monthly to target young people with busy lifestyles. Sarah Robertson examines what whets the appetite of journalists covering this genre and how the magazines differ from each other.

Britain's love affair with all things culinary is at an all-time high: the rise of the celebrity chef and an increase in food-oriented television - from conventional cooking programmes to reality shows such as Hell's Kitchen - has brought quality cuisine into our living rooms.

And industry scandals such as Sudan 1, coupled with the high-profile obesity debate, has fuelled public scrutiny.

Fresh is the latest food offering to hit the shelves. It is trying to carve out a niche as the magazine that cares not only about our health, but the ethical sourcing of ingredients. Like fellow monthlies Olive and Delicious, which both launched around 18 months ago, Fresh's informal, accessible tone is targeted at the 25 to 40-year-old ABC market.

Health credentials

With health so high on the political agenda, it is little wonder that the resonance of these titles is growing, says Alan Twigg, MD of Nexus Communications, which has a strong food client portfolio. But he warns: 'While this creates an opportunity, you have to be very clear and sure-footed about your product's provenance and health credentials.'

Fresh promises to become something of a campaigning title on the sourcing of goods. 'There is a serious backlash against food miles because of increasing environmental concerns. Profiling growers is a good PR tactic, and it is a way for the magazines to humanise food,' suggests The SPA Way associate director Daisy Norman.

Sputnik Communications director of accounts Lucy Rickett says: 'The issue of nutrition offers angles such as whether your food fits into a scheduled feature - brain food, healing foods and so on.'

The 'lifestyle' breed of food titles often look at food abroad. 'When people come back from holiday they want to keep the memories alive and one way they do it is with food. Olive shows people where they can source food from,' says Weber Shandwick account director Emily Buckland. 'Fresh seems to be a blend of the other magazines, so it will be interesting to see where it goes.'

FRESH

Editor: Fiona Shoop

Publisher: Naked Media

Print-run: 150,000

Contact: fiona@livingfresh.co.uk

What gap in the market do you fill?

People want to know what they are eating and where it comes from. We feature everyday food for people who want something quick and easy.

What is your wider agenda?

We encourage people to grow their own food, even if they live in a bedsit.

You don't need to be rich to eat good food. We are also encouraging readers to find out what local products their supermarkets stock and are campaigning to end battery chicken farming. Our paper comes from sustainable forests and the ink is biodegradable.

Where are the opportunities for PROs?

Our sections cover recipes, a buyer's guide, organic foods, growing your own food, healthy food and tips for feeding children.'Fresh alternative' is for people with food intolerances or allergies. We like getting recipes from PROs.

DELICIOUS

Deputy editor: Matthew Drennan

Publisher: Seven Publishing

ABC: 102,000

Contact: info@deliciousmagazine.co.uk

Who reads Delicious?

Twenty-five to 40-year-olds, predominantly female. Nevertheless, men read us more than our competitors because we have a smarter, funkier look.

We aren't mumsy, but not so cutting edge that we scare people off who just want a few recipes.

What sections of your magazine lend themselves well to PROs?

Our 'foodie file' news section, which features new products. We would like to know more about television and radio programmes on food. We have four special editions a year, which include a barbecue edition and a Christmas edition, but don't have a forward features list.

How are you different from your rivals?

We do not cover restaurants. Our focus is on recipes and in-depth features. We campaign for small producers and British food.

OLIVE

Editor: Christine Hayes

Publisher: BBC Magazines

ABC: 66,517

Contact: lulu.grimes@bbc.co.uk

How would you characterise Olive?

We are a good-looking magazine that can be left on the coffee table. We don't take ourselves too seriously.

How are you different?

We are unique in offering a balance of food, travel and restaurants.

We also have strong links with the food programming side of the BBC.

The three chefs of Full-on Food, which has its second series starting in July, will devise our recipes. Our restaurant critic Richard Johnson will be presenting the show. We will also be working with Masterchef's John Torode.

What do you want from PROs?

A targeted approach. There are still too many PROs not reading the magazine.

Apart from that, they can feed into all parts of the magazine. We have a section called 'Starters', which is the gateway to the magazine - it covers products and prime foodie destinations.

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