The poultry industry has changed almost beyond all recognition since 1917. In the early years of the last century, around 90% of commercial eggs were produced on general farms as a sideline or by-product. Chicken meat production was a by-product of these laying flocks, and turkey production was carried out in just one or two countries, and only as a seasonal operation.

The first steps in the USA

This was the state of the poultry industry when Watt Publishing took its first steps in serving it through its poultry publications. J.W. Watt and his partners bought Poultry Tribune in 1917. At that time, the magazine had a circulation of 25,000 and it served poultry producers across the USA. Watt Publishing Company grew along with its circulation, which reached more than half a million by the early 1940s. Among the services offered by Poultry Tribune was an experimental farm with 2500 laying hens, 4000 broilers and 900 turkeys. Built in 1927, the farm was just one mile from the editorial offices and it generated new ideas in terms of feeding, management and housing.

In the late 1930s, the company's Turkey World magazine played a key role in helping to create the National Turkey Federation. To this day, Watt continues to alert its readers to major developments in the industries it serves.

Going international

In the 1950s, the poultry industry expanded and became more sophisticated. Businesses started vertical integrations, and the Watt magazine mix adapted by covering all phases of production from breeding through to processing, further processing, and marketing of eggs, broilers and turkeys.

Leslie Watt, son of J.W. Watt, was the company's second President and raised the company to the international audience in 1957, when Watt acquired Industria Avicola, the Spanish language magazine that continues to serve the Latin American poultry industry to this day. In 1962, Poultry International was established to serve the industries throughout Europe, Middle East/Africa and Asia-Pacific.

With the poultry industry as a base and under the leadership of the third generation, James Watt (now Chairman), the company expanded its market portfolio to include animal feed and pig production, petfood manufacturing, meat processing and, most recently, woodworking and upholstery.

Exactly thirty years ago, Watt purchased a number of titles from Garden State Publishing Company, including Egg Industry, Poultry Digest, Broiler Industry and Feed Management.

In 2005, Watt launched Poultry International China Edition, which takes much of its editorial material from this magazine, specially selected for the booming Chinese poultry market the latest developments in the global poultry industry in the local language.

Embracing new technology

Throughout this period of growth and change, Watt's publications have helped to spread the new technology, not only watching the industry but on occasions, also helping to fuel it. Information technology has developed at an accelerating pace, and Watt has used the latest media to continue with technology transfer.

Watt launched its first web site in the 1990s to provide up-to-the-minute news about the industry to its readers. Now, these web sites contain archives with more than a decade of material to readers all over the world, at the touch of a few key-strokes. The company's new web site for the poultry industry, www.wattpoultry.com, was launched in time for the International Poultry Exposition in Atlanta in January 2007, to mark the start of Watt's 90th anniversary year.

The company also mails tens of thousands of newsletters each week to keep readers informed about the latest news in each market Watt serves.

Always looking for new and innovative ways of sharing information, Watt launched digital versions of its print magazines in the last year, allowing readers to access the publications more quickly than by mail. The company has also hosted a number of on-line webinars, allowing participants to hear and view presentations from industry experts without leaving their office or home. Saving time and travel expenses, many thousands of readers have taken part in the live events or viewed the archives on-line later at their convenience.

Watt's Presidentsees a bright future for the global industry

Greg Watt, now Chief Executive Officer and President, represents the fourth generation of the Watt family to run the company. He emphasises the family's commitment to continue to change and innovate to serve readers.

"The global readers of our content now require access to the information digitally on their desktops, their mobile devices and through traditional print products. As a result, Watt is quickly changing from exclusively distributing content worldwide through print publications to one that is increasingly based on digital delivery of market-focused business information and data. Watt brands are currently received by readers and users in over 150 countries forecasted growth will be in Eastern Europe, China, India and Latin America with new on-line media products. The business has transformed from its print heritage to a digital future. The digital future is already here as the on-line media portfolio is annually growing in double digits. Innovative new product, service and consulting offerings centred around knowledge and solutions will be created for our readers around the world. As a company focused on our customers, we are embracing innovation, technology and change."

This year, Watt celebrates its 90th anniversary in poultry publications. It proudly remains a family business. We take a look back at the highlights of the last nine decades and Greg Watt, the company's President, looks forward to a bright future.