Australian Symposium Shows Flexibility in Industry

By Bill Spooncer, Kurrajong Meat Technology

Renderers from all continents gathered in Cairns in Australia’s tropical north for the ninth Australian Renderers Association (ARA) symposium in mid-July. The locals complained about a cold snap, but visitors from wintry Sydney and Melbourne found the 77 degree Fahrenheit daily temperature very pleasant.

The theme of the symposium was “Rendering – a flexible resource.” In welcoming delegates, ARA President Paul Stenzel reflected on the flexibility of the international rendering community and the ability of the rendering industry to find new markets and uses for rendered products as the traditional uses come under pressure.

Humphry Koch of West Coast Reduction in Canada was the keynote speaker. He explained how the Canadian rendering industry has adapted and recovered from the identification of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Canada. Koch outlined events since the first case of BSE on May 3, 2003, to the implementation of the enhanced feed ban regulations on July 12, 2007. The Canadian rendering industry’s response to BSE has been to voluntarily segregate rendering of ruminant and non-ruminant material. In Koch’s view this should be enough to control what is fed to ruminants and eliminate the theoretical risk of amplifying BSE through animal feed. However, the government response included convening an international expert panel whose recommendations included enhanced cattle identification, increased BSE surveillance, removal and redirection of specified risk materials (SRMs) from the human food chain, and removal and redirection of SRMs from the animal feed chain. With the enhanced feed ban taking effect on July 12, all the recommendations of the international expert committee have been implemented.

Koch estimated that the removal of SRMs from the feed chain in accordance with the enhanced feed ban will mean the loss of about one-third of the volume of meat meal. Balancing the loss of product is an increase in prices from about $75 per ton to over $200 per ton.

Andrew Cupit, the former Australian Veterinary Counselor in Washington, DC, followed Koch with some observations about BSE in North America. Cupit explained that while the small cluster of BSE cases in Canada could be linked to the importation of meat and bone meal, the U.S. cases did not appear to be feed related because they were not typical BSE cases, and probably should not be counted as such. They are cases of degenerative disease in older animals that may or may not be transmissible. Andrew noted that an interesting point about BSE in Canada is that the consumer reaction was to increase consumption of beef.

Stephen Woodgate, technical director of the European Fat Processors and Renderers Association (EFPRA), discussed how the European rendering industry has survived and is reestablishing markets through implementation of research and development directed at fats, proteins, and processes across the categories of food, feed, fertilizer, fuel, and functional (called the EFPRA F5 program). Woodgate gave some examples of research projects, including protein and amino digestibility of poultry meal in aqua feeds, hipermax fibers from feather project to make paper and cardboard, and various fuel-based projects. The total loss of value of rendered products between 1990 and 2000 was about 800 million Euros (€) (about U.S. $1 billion). Since 2000, €35 million has been invested in research and development by industry and the European Union commission, and Woodgate expects that as a result of this investment the value of rendered products will increase by €500 million from 2000 to 2010.

In the engineering session of the symposium David Pinches of Keith Engineering explained his company’s development of an airless rendering process. Airless rendering is the next step from superheated steam drying introduced for drying wet rendered solids and gel-bone chips. Pinches described the prototype airless rendering system that uses superheated steam as a heating medium and outlined the benefits of reduced energy costs and improved product quality.

Another alternative approach to rendering is the ADT hydrolytic process. Dennis King of ADT explained the process and described the research his company has carried out to demonstrate that its hydrolysis process can eliminate transmissible spongiform encephalopathy infectivity. The process can be used to produce hydrolyzed feather meal and to process other low-value raw materials such as blood and concentrated stickwater to produce liquid fertilizers that provide better returns than traditional processing methods.

David Green of Engreen Environmental Consultants discussed thermal oxidation as a way of treating cooking vapors. Advances in thermal oxidation include recuperative oxidation, which recovers energy from the oxidized vapor to produce steam, and regenerative oxidation, which uses heat from the oxidation process to preheat gases through ceramic beds. There are 12 recuperative and three regenerative thermal oxidizers in use at rendering plants in the United Kingdom.

Day two of the symposium focused on marketing issues starting with a talk by Michael Betar of Standard Commodities about protein markets. He discussed the possible return of U.S. product to the Indonesian market and the benefits this would have on encouraging formulators to include meat and bone meal in rations. Betar also discussed the opportunities for specialty products such as fish meal replacers, low ash meat meal, and low ash poultry meal in Southeast Asia.

German Davalos of the National Renderers Association gave the audience an insight into the South American rendering industry. The main producers of rendered products are Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. Brazil and Argentina use most of their rendered products domestically and are not big exporters. Uruguay produced about 145,000 metric tons of meat and bone meal in 2006 and exported about 30 percent.

Greg Pickup of Chicago Perspectives gave his views on world vegetable oil markets. Commodities such as fats and oils are now of considerable interest to financial markets, not just traders and producers, and with the rapid expansion of biofuels, predicting the future of fats and oils markets has become very complex. Pickup’s view is the bull run in oils will continue but there are many unknowns, from the weather to how the predicted capacity of biofuel production is taken up, and shocks to financial markets that could affect fats and oils prices.

The marketing session wrapped up with Daniel Jenshel of Peerless Holdings discussing edible markets for tallow. While the use of tallow in edible applications is generally in decline, Jenshel sees plenty of opportunities for marketing tallow for edible application in the local and export markets. These opportunities include focusing on uses and markets that are less affected by health concerns, emphasizing the difference between naturally occurring trans fatty acids in tallow and artificially created trans fatty acids in hydrogenated vegetable oils, finding alternative uses for tallow (i.e., in waxed paper), and emphasizing that tallow is a natural resource.

The final session of the symposium addressed biofuels. Biodiesel was discussed by Edgar Anh of BDI in Austria, Tissa Fernando of Flo-Dry Engineering, and Stewart McGlashan of Meat and Livestock Australia. Biodiesel was not the only topic and Torsten Fischer of Krieg and Fischer Ingenieure talked about production of biogas from low-value raw material that would otherwise by rendered, such as blood, gut content, low-value offal, and dissolved air flotation (DAF) sludge. DAF sludge looked particularly promising as a high yielding substrate for biogas production.

David Kaluzny II, of Kaluzny Bros., discussed his detailed knowledge of how to burn fats and oils in boilers. He explained the advantages of using tallow to make biodiesel but mainly gave the benefit of his experience in burning fats and oils in boilers over the last six years. Once the boilers are set up correctly and operating procedures understood, boilers can be switched between fats and oils, natural gas, and fuel oil depending on pricing. In 2006, Kaluzny ran his boilers on fats and oils for half the year.

At the open forum, discussion on biodiesel centered on how to encourage mandated levels of biodiesel and the costs of meeting quality standards for biodiesel. Doug Ward of Argent Energy made the points that the best allies for getting governments to set targets for the use of biodiesel could be green lobbying groups and that when it comes to supplying biodiesel to oil majors, there should be no question about paying whatever it costs to test product to verify that it meets the relevant quality standards.

The ARA symposium was followed by the annual general meeting of the World Renderers Organization (WRO), where the presidency of the WRO was handed over from Doug Anderson to Niels Nielson. Nielson presented plaques of appreciation to former WRO Presidents Andy Bennett and Anderson.

International Report – October 2007 RENDER | back