This time of year is typically filled with tradition. One tradition I started two years ago after becoming Dairy Foods' publisher is to fill the January editorial page with my thoughts and reflections on our magazine and the industry we cover.

Well, let me tell you, I am continually surprised by what the dairy industry has accomplished in the short time that I have been associated with it. All of you truly amaze me! It is an industry steeped in tradition, but bursting with opportunity. I am so impressed by the fact that milk can be made shelf-stable and sold in plastic bottles and that today's kids think milk is cool. They can even buy milk in vending machines . . . in an array of flavors.

I've visited with many of you the past couple of years, either at a meeting, on the phone or even a trip to your office. What strikes me is how so many people can be so passionate about dairy. This passion has definitely rubbed off and this year Dairy Foods' readers will get a chance to experience some of our own dairy industry innovations.

Don't worry; we haven't been busy in the lab. We'll leave that to the experts-you. But I personally have more years in the publishing world than I care to reveal. So I am pleased to announce that Dairy Foods will again be delivering many new innovations to you in 2005.

The pages of Dairy Foods will be jammed packed with new features and articles, as we've added 23 new items to our editorial calendar. This will include June's Annual Packaging Outlook and December's Year in Review, with state of industry segments on beverages, cheese, cultured products and frozen desserts. Thank you for your many positive comments on our first ever International and State of Global Marketing issue this past October. We'll publish this again in September, translating overseas trends into what opportunities exist for our North American audience, the largest of any dairy publication. Again with this January issue, you'll find Dairy Foods' annual Supplier Capabilities Spotlights, where our growing number of advertisers and supporters are given the opportunity to communicate to you beyond their traditional advertising messages. These numerous suppliers are committed to providing you with the finest services and products to run and grow your business.

In the past year we have increased the number of contributing columnists who offer their thoughts on the news and events that are taking place in their particular field of expertise. You have told us that you enjoy hearing from industry experts like Bob Roberts and Henry Randolph. This year we will add one more expert as Michael Richmond begins writing Packaging Points, a column on dairy packaging.

As we begin a new year, the industry is faced with the never-ending challenges of selling a mature-market product that is highly regulated, and often treated as a commodity. But in addition to better single serve milk for schools and foodservice, there are a number of remarkable opportunities for dairy processors:

• Cheese sales continue to grow, especially natural cheese, and American artisan cheeses are winning more international awards than ever.

• Organic and natural dairy is another great opportunity, and one that companies both large and small are exploring. Dairy makes up almost half of the organic offerings in most stores.

• Better-for-you positioning, be it the Healthy Weight with Dairy campaign, low-carb offerings or just the wholesome goodness of yogurt are being embraced by consumers.

• Better packaging and equipment are being made available. If dairy is to compete for share of stomach, attractive packaging is crucial. Equipment innovations allow for higher quality, longer shelflife, and more efficient, more cost-effective production.

• New food science technology is allowing food processors to utilize milk's inherent nutrition in more ways than ever.

• Export opportunities continue to grow.

Like the industry it covers, Dairy Foods continues to change and evolve. I am excited about the innovations in the dairy industry and thrilled at the opportunities we are exploring to produce a magazine that's better than ever. As always, we invite your comments and suggestions.