Once a “new age” sounding buzzword describing Internet and online services allowing people to obtain information, the term “Internet highway” has become almost quaint-sounding.

When I first started surfing some seven years ago, websites with photos were a novelty, and useful information was scarce. The web has since become my phone book, encyclopedia, travel agent and shopping mall, among many other things.

In the 2002 Prepared Foods' R&D Investment Survey, a select readership was queried on methods employed to obtain information on technical issues, ingredient sources and so on. When asked to rate the frequency of several methods used to obtain information on consumer product trends—from 1 (seldom or never use) to 10 (most/frequently use)—23.9% of the responses gave the Internet a score of 8, 9 or 10.

To the above, let me add a comment about a common and frustrating occurrence among our writers. As we research articles, we usually have far more information on a topic than space permits in the magazine. It's the two-dimensional equivalent of the phenomenon referred to as “sound bites” in audio media.

Merging increased reader Internet use with our desire to offer you more information has resulted in a key element of this month's Prepared Foods' redesign. (Hopefully, you've noticed. If not, you may have been a bit too enthusiastic in your New Year's celebration.) On this page and at the end of many articles, we've included a list of websites relevant to the editorial we present. Over time, our efforts to pinpoint key informational sites will be refined.

Although PF's effort to include useful Internet information in its print version is just accelerating, the Internet has long been viewed as an expedient way to provide information for food and beverage manufacturers. For many years, PF had the luck to be guided by management that kept an eye on the future in regards to how readers worked to solve their information needs. One result is that eight years of PF articles on a keyword searchable database can be accessed at www.PreparedFoods.com.

If you have not done so already, spend some time perusing our website. A lengthy calendar of industry events and association list, a classified ad page for food industry jobs and, of course, daily news updates are just a few of the things you'll find there.

We intend to offer you the best of two worlds.

Internet Information

For more information on subjects covered in this issues articles, see the Internet sites provided below.

One Size Does Not Fit All
www.ethnicgrocer.com — Consumer site dedicated to ethnic food products, some recipes
www.Ethnic-Foods.com — Online trading in ethnic food, wholesale and retail
www.fecfood.com — Online grocery for authentic Latino food

In the Know
www.realtime.net/anr/aminoacd.html — Overview of amino acids
www.friedli.com/herbs/phytochem/proteins.html — Technical information on protein structure
www.functionalfoods.nu — Sweden’s The Center of Excellence and Innovation in Functional Foods

Category Analysis: Functional Foods
www.mintel.com — Mintel International’s homepage
www.eatright.com — American Dietetic Assoc. site with information on nutritional foods

Prioritizing Product Development
www.talksoy.com — United Soybean Board
www.restaurant.org — National Restaurant Assoc.
www.omri.org — Organic Materials Review Institute
www.nutrition.gov — Government nutrition site
www.cfsan.fda.gov — Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

Ingredients in Use: Dietary Fiber
www.scisoc.org/aacc/dietaryfiber/report.html— AACC’s dietary fiber definition of fiber
www.americanheart.org — Type “dietary fiber” into search field on American Heart Association’s website
www.nap.edu — National Academy of Science’s definition of dietary fiber; search published titles for “dietary fiber”

Adding Fun and Health to Hot Cereals
www.confex2.com/ift/99annual/abstracts/3557.htm — Technical paper on infused fruits