There are a lot of new things on the horizon, as a new year always brings new beginnings. This month, we toured the enormous, state-of-the-art facilities of nut processor John B. Sanfilippo & Son (JBSS), which continues to grow, improve and upgrade, while unveiling new products, packaging and snack production technology.

With an amazing 1 million sq. ft. at its headquarters in Elgin, Ill., alone, as well as four other nut-processing plants in Bainbridge, Ga., Garysburg, N.C., Gustine, Calif. and Selma, Texas, the company’s operations are as sophisticated and advanced as they can get. It places a high value on snack and baking nut category analysis to identify current and future industry trends. And as nuts and nut snacks are addressing health and wellness issues, it's also ahead of the curve there, as well as with its high food safety standards.

We also discuss JBSS’ sustainable initiatives. The company is taking steps to not only become the leader in nut production but as an Energy Star award winner, it’s also an environmental leader, from reducing its energy use to implementing recycling programs and adopting sustainable packaging. It’s committed to reducing its impact on the environment today and for generations to come. So be sure to read more about this successful snack food company in our Cover and Plant story sections.

We’re also taking a look at the world of flavors available in ethnic marketing, as our Special Report article explains how international flavors are gaining popularity in snack foods and baked goods, and how challenging it is for producers to win favor with cautious consumers who take their sweet time deciding to try new things.

Food processors also find it tricky to figure out the difference between a fad and a trend, whether consumer- or industry-driven. Andre Biane, president and CEO of the American Institute of Baking (AIB) International, our food safety expert this month, explains why fads and trends can actually play a role in protecting food from risks.

And, on the Internet front, once again, we have polled our online viewers about which of the 10 Top Products of 2013 we chose that they like the best for our annual list. We will report the results of the vote in our March issue and now on

Among our choices for the 2013 list are such interesting products as new takes on tortillas, pastry cups and gluten-free stuffing. We made our selection from the many new products we published in Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery and on last year. Originality, packaging and taste were the criteria on which these products were selected. When we culled our final list and posted it on our website for you to vote on. For some time, several nominees were neck and neck, but you’ll see the ultimate winner; we’ll discuss what made it all tick and who finally became the cream of the crop.