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Food & Wine unveils first international edition

Food & Wine, an American Express Publishing Corp. title, will launch its first international edition in China this September.

The gourmand’s glossy will be published in conjunction with Beijing-based Trends Communications. Thirty-five percent to 55 percent of each monthly issue will be content pulled from the US edition. The rest will focus on the local Chinese market.

“We really didn’t think Food & Wine would translate well because food is so culture-specific, and we thought that if we did [an international edition] it would be a Westernized market û the UK or Australia.” Mark Stanich, chief marketing officer for American Express said of the launch. “But our take on the food industry – how the cult of chefs in America is increasing in China, coverage of fresh and organic and locally-grown trends and our take on wine – that was a balance that they [Trends] thought Chinese readers would love.”

“There’s a real thirst in the Chinese market – which is a really big market – for a take on what trends around the world are,” Stanich continued. “It’s a really large, growing audience that’s going to become food lovers over the next 5 to 10 years and create a platform for our contributors and our advertisers.”

A separate sales force was assembled for the Food & Wine China, but international ad packages will be made available to global advertisers.

American Express Publishing has some experience in the global market. Travel and Leisure launched an international edition four years ago. Platinum card members around the world receive copies of the luxury magazine Departures. Departures was also introduced to the Russian market in February, in conjunction with American Express partner Russian Standard Bank.

Other publishers have also been quick to offer editions to countries with quickly-growing middle- and upper-classes. Cond? Nast recently launched an India edition of Vogue, and Hearst will unveil Town & Country in the Philippines in September.

Subscriptions for Food & Wine China will be available. The magazine will also be sold at newsstands, kiosks and hotels in large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Food & Wine has a US circulation rate base of close to 950,000. The rate base circulation for the Chinese issue was not disclosed as of press time.

Stanich said the company doesn’t necessarily target its typically affluent readers.

“We look for a psychographic: Are they really passionate about food? And it just so happens that the people who self-select are a really great demographic,” he explained. “Because we have things that attract well-educated and affluent people we tend to attract that good demographic, and I think it will be the same with the fast-growing middle class in China.”

Says Stanich of future growth for Food & Wine, “Food generally right now is a really hot topic. If you look at ratings on food magazines or the Food Network, food as a subject is a big media mover here. To the extent that there is not an entrenched magazine already in the field, we are open to moving into new markets.”

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