Meredith Merges Food Magazines Cooking Light And EatingWell


FILE – This March 11, 2015, file photo shows the Meredith Corp. headquarters building in Des Moines, Iowa. Meredith Corp. said Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, that it is buying Time Inc. for about $1.8 billion in a deal that joins two giant magazine companies. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Meredith Corporation is combining Cooking Light with EatingWell, consolidating what it sees as two magazines whose content overlaps, and eliminating as a frequency-based print magazine the mass-circulation title that came to Meredith when it acquired Time Inc. earlier this year.

The move will create one of the largest subscription magazines in the epicurean category, with a circulation rate base of 1.775 million. This represents a nearly 80 percent increase over EatingWell’s ratebase of one million.

The last issue of Cooking Light will be its December issue, which closes in about a week. The new EatingWell will launch with a January/February 2019 issue, and will be published 10 times per year. It currently has a six-times frequency. EatingWell will continue to boast a larger trim size.

In a related move, Meredith also announced Wednesday that it is eliminating Coastal Living as a frequency-based brand and converting it into a special-interest, newsstand-only product. Meredith’s Birmingham, Alabama, offices, the home base for Time Inc.’s old Southern Progress, will continue to be the hub forMeredith’s 14 food-related brands, including Allrecipes, Food & Wine, Rachael Ray Every Day and others.

Carey Witmer, executive vice president and group publisher of the Meredith Food Group, notes that both Cooking Light and Eating Well have been leaders in the healthy lifestyle market for more than 20 years (Cooking Light was founded in 1987 and EatingWell was founded in 1990).

Both have a strong consumer presence, but Witmer says that Meredith’s analysis was that the brands have more in common than not, and were therefore slightly redundant. “We felt there was a greater opportunity in combining forces, and we had to make a bet on one brand in that healthy lifestyle space, and we picked EatingWell,” she says. “That might seem strange because it’s the smaller of the two, but we love the name—it reflects how consumers are eating food and living today.”

Meredith confirmed that there will be staff reductions with the merger. Witmer and EatingWell Publisher Tiffany Ehasz will manage advertising for the enhanced EatingWell. The editorial team for EatingWell will remain based in Shelburne, Vermont, led by Editor in Chief Jessie Price. On the digital side, the two websites will remain distinct, with the teams reporting to Stan Pavlovsky, president of Meredith Digital.

Like Coastal Living, the Cooking Light brand will live on in print in the form of SIPs. Six are planned for next year, Witmer says. And various branded businesses for both Cooking Light and EatingWell, including licensing, bookazines, cookbooks and the Cooking Light Diet, will continue to operate under their current names.

Bu EatingWell has been at the forefront of the healthy-eating movement for decades, and Meredith believes its science-based food and wellness journalism is in sync with what consumers want from a food magazine, including topics like farm-to-table, locally-sourced ingredients, and fresh and easy recipes.

EatingWell‘s Price agreed with Witmer’s description of the decision. “Our approach has always been a little bit more to tell the stories about food and how it’s produced, and how consumers—particularly millennials—are trending regarding food,” she says. “It’s really about the future of food and the direction food is going, and we’re perfectly positioned in terms of where things are going.”

Witmer says the advertising community has reacted well so far. “Everyone is excited, and not surprised,” she says. “We have gotten no pushback at all. EatingWell is on a tear this year. It’s up 12 percent in pages. Advertisers are trying to get into the space. They’re recognizing that consumers care where their food comes from. So we see great upside as we look to 2019.”

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