People, Places, & ...

AOCS Elects President

Casimir C. Akoh, distinguished research professor at the University of Georgia, has been elected as the 2008-2009 American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS) president.

A member of AOCS since 1985, Akoh has been an active board member since 2001. He has won several awards including the AOCS Stephen S. Chang Award, which recognizes a scientist or technologist who has made decisive accomplishments in research for the improvement or development of products related to lipids. Akoh’s vision for the second century of AOCS is focused on membership and retention, quality of the organization’s publications, growing future leaders for the society, and maintaining fiscal responsibility. He also emphasized that “AOCS must be the global and trusted authority on issues related to fats and oils and co-products.”

Other governing board members elected include Ian Purtle, Cargill, Inc., vice president; Steven Hill, Kraft Foods, secretary; and Timothy Kemper, DeSmet Ballestra North America, treasurer.

Carcass Disposal Paper Available

In animal agriculture, a certain number of animals will die on the farm before being marketed. These deaths, also referred to as mortalities, may be classified broadly as either routine or catastrophic and may impact producers, industry, state and federal health and environmental agencies, and the public.

To address the possible implications of swine mortalities, the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) has released a new issue paper, Swine Carcass Disposal Options for Routine and Catastrophic Mortality. The paper is available electronically without charge on CAST’s Web site at, and includes a prominent section on rendering. Dr. David Meeker, vice president, Scientific Services, National Renderers Association, was one of five authors of the paper. A hard copy is available for a shipping/handling fee.

This CAST publication, the first in a three-part review of swine, poultry, and cattle carcass disposal options, assesses potential strengths and limitations of existing procedures. Besides rendering, other topics addressed in the paper include burial, incineration, and composting; alternative and nontraditional technologies; and biosecurity and disease control with traditional methods.

ConAgra Sells Trading Operations

ConAgra Foods, Inc., has sold its commodity trading and merchandising operations conducted by ConAgra Trade Group to an investor group led by Ospraie Special Opportunities Fund, which also includes global growth investor General Atlantic, LLC, and a private investment fund managed by Soros Fund Management, LLC. ConAgra Trade Group was sold for $2.8 billion, higher than originally estimated due to increases in the group’s book value.

The Ospraie Special Opportunities Fund is an affiliate of Ospraie Management, a leading investment management firm focused exclusively on commodities and basic industries with approximately $9 billion under management. The sold businesses will now operate as The Gavilon Group, LLC. Greg Heckman, formerly president of ConAgra Foods’ commercial businesses, is now chief executive of The Gavilon Group, which will remain in its current offices in Omaha, NE. The Gavilon Group will conduct grain and by-products merchandising and fertilizer distribution, as well as agriculture, energy, and other commodity trading activities, and risk management services.

Rob Sharpe has been named president, Commercial Foods, ConAgra, and will assume responsibility for leading the remaining commercial businesses, operated as the company’s food and ingredients reporting segment.

Crusader for Renderers in Asia Retires

It was with mixed feelings that the National Renderers Association (NRA) accepted the retirement announcement of Dr. Yu Yu, who has represented the group’s interests in the Asian market for 12 years. His final day with NRA will be August 31, 2008.

Under Yu’s watch, U.S. rendered product exports to Asia, especially China, grew dramatically up until bovine spongiform encephalopathy was discovered in the United States in December 2003. He was also responsible for applying more focus on using rendered products as partial replacement to fish meal.

“Yu’s aggressiveness in the Asian market has benefited the rendering industry over the past 12 years,” said Kent Swisher, vice president, NRA International Programs. “He will be greatly missed within the industry.”

Yu and his wife will be relocating to California from Hong Kong.

Feed Association Names Chairman

The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) recently elected Donald E. Orr Jr., president of JBS United, as chairman of the board until May 2009. Brian Rittgers, sales manager, Dairy Business Unit at Elanco Animal Health, has been chosen chair-elect.

Orr has been president of JBS United since 1997. JBS United is a nutrition technology-based company involved in premix/base mix feed production and marketing, enzyme and probiotic marketing, swine production, and grain storage and marketing. In addition, Orr leads the company’s Nutrition Division and previously headed their research and development program.

Active in the feed industry, Orr has been a board member of the American Society of Animal Science and is a member of the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists. He has served on the National Pork Producers Council Research Project Selection Committee, Swine Modeling Committee, and Feed Purchasing Manual Committee. He has been a guest speaker around the world and in 18 states at swine meetings. Orr holds a bachelor of science degree in animal science from Purdue University, a master of science in animal industry from Penn State, and a PhD in animal husbandry from Michigan State University.

Rittgers has held his current position at Elanco since 2004. He joined the Agriculture Chemical Division of Elanco Products Company in 1979 as a sales representative. In 1983, he was named market research analyst responsible for new products. His positions have included marketing associate and market research analyst for cattle products in the Elanco Animal Health Division and later, marketing associate for swine products. In 2000, he was a recipient of the Eli Lilly and Company’s Chairman’s Ovation Award for his commitment and accomplishments in people development and recruiting. Rittgers holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Iowa State University and has served on the Meat Export Federation Board.

Fish Lab Opens with a Splash

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) dedicated its new National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center in Franklin, ME, in late May. Research at the new center is focused on developing technologies to enhance the sustainability and profitability of cold water marine aquaculture and ensure safe, abundant seafood for U.S. consumers. Research at the new center will be conducted in collaboration with ongoing projects at the University of Maine’s Aquaculture Research Center in Orono, ME, and the university’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research (CCAR) in Franklin.

The new ARS laboratory also will support national and international research programs and initiatives in aquaculture. When all components of the aquaculture center are complete and the center is fully staffed, there will be 14 full-time scientists and approximately 45 support personnel. Construction of the $22.7 million facility – which provides more than 44,000 square feet of laboratory, office, and tank space – was completed in June 2007 on a site adjacent to the University of Maine’s CCAR.

Haarslev Acquires Spanish Company

In May 2008, Haarslev A/S acquired the Spanish company Tremesa S.A., and is in the process of merging the two companies. Tremesa is a manufacturer of rendering and oil seed equipment.

The product portfolios and working procedures of Haarslev and Tremesa complement each other in a way that allows them to share expertise in different fields, and to develop and provide products of the highest quality together. Further, the combined sales offices and agent network will give global coverage for the two companies within the meat and rendering industry.

The group has production facilities in Denmark, Spain, Brazil, and Peru with approximately 650 employees worldwide. In the United States, Haarslev has a sales and service facility in Kansas City, MO, which is in the process of expanding.

In a separate announcement, Haarslev has hired Bill Welborn as parts and service manager for the Kansas City facility. Welborn was previously with Tyson Foods and has more than 19 years of experience in the rendering industry.

Marketing Director Named at Valley Proteins

Valley Proteins, Inc., has named Kevin Baker as director of Sales and Marketing for its companies, which includes Carolina By-Products.

Baker holds a bachelor of science degree in agricultural economics from Purdue University. His background includes 23 years experience with Tate and Lyle in the corn wet milling business. He has managed and operated multiple locations and was most recently director of Industrial Ingredient Marketing.

Baker and his family will be relocating from central Illinois to the Winchester, VA, area where he will work out of Valley Proteins’ corporate office. He will have overall responsibility for the marketing, sale, distribution, and quality control of all products produced and distributed by Valley Proteins and Carolina By-Products.

Pet Food Seized at Distribution Center

On June 19, 2008, at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. marshals seized various animal food products stored under unsanitary conditions at the PETCO Animal Supplies Distribution Center located in Joliet, IL, pursuant to a warrant issued by the U.S. District Court in Chicago, IL.

Seized was all FDA-regulated animal food susceptible to rodent and pest contamination. The seized products violate the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act because it was alleged in a case filed by the U.S. Attorney that they were being held under unsanitary conditions. The distribution center in Joliet provides pet food products and supplies to PETCO retail stores in 16 states, including Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

During an FDA inspection of the PETCO distribution center in April 2008, widespread and active rodent and bird infestation was found. The FDA re-inspected the facility in May and found continuing and widespread infestation. FDA has had no reports of pet illness or death associated with consumption of animal food distributed by PETCO, and does not have evidence that the food is unsafe for animals. However, the seized products were in permeable packages and held under conditions that could affect the food’s integrity and quality.

According to a letter from PETCO Chief Executive Officer Jim Myers posted on the company’s Web site the week of the seizure, since the May inspection the company has acted aggressively to address concerns raised by the FDA.

Sanderson Farms Delays Construction

Just two months after announcing plans to construct a poultry complex in Kinston, NC, Sanderson Farms, Inc., has decided to delay the construction and start-up of the $126.5 million feed mill, poultry processing plant, and hatchery (see “People, Places &…” in the June 2008 Render). Joe F. Sanderson Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Sanderson Farms, blamed escalating prices for corn and soybean meal, the company’s primary feed ingredients, and recent flooding in the Midwest for uncertain future input costs and supplies.

“While our balance sheet remains strong, we believe it is prudent to be conservative with our working capital and our balance sheet at this time,” Sanderson stated. The company remains committed to the Kinston complex and says it will pursue the expansion project at a more appropriate time.

Terminal Association Changes Name

On June 1, 2008, the Independent Liquid Terminals Association changed its name to the International Liquid Terminals Association (ILTA). The group’s logo, which is a registered trademark, will remain the same. The ILTA is based in Washington, DC.

Removing the word “Independent” and replacing it with “International” does a much better job of describing the association’s terminal members and conveys the global scope of its membership. As a practical matter, ILTA has been an international association for many years and plans to expand its international operations and increase the number of terminal members from other countries. Currently, 19 terminal members are based outside the United States. Eleven of those operate exclusively in their home countries while the remaining eight operate terminals in the United States and are owned mostly by companies headquartered in the European Union. Three additional terminal members are based in the United States and operate facilities in both the United States and other countries.

Veterinary Group Enters into Partnership

Fort Dodge Animal Health, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, and Merial have together pledged a total of $4.5 million in support of American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) programs and services over the next four years.

The unprecedented commitments are part of the association’s new Platinum Partner Program, or P3, which is intended to provide members with new and improved initiatives and opportunities to enhance membership benefits. Each P3 participant has made a $380,000 annual commitment to the AVMA for four years for a total of $1.5 million. In return, each company receives a broad range of benefits from the association such as opportunities to interact with AVMA members, leaders, and staff; be recognized as “elite partners” with the AVMA through various promotional efforts; and receive space in the AVMA’s journal for advertising and spotlight advertorials highlighting the companies’ contributions to veterinary medicine.

One benefit of being a P3 member for Fort Dodge Animal Health will be increased visibility within the veterinary profession. The company wants to highlight key products along with its support for National Pet Wellness Month and other educational campaigns.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition will use the P3 commitment as a continued demonstration to its support for the veterinary community and to educate practitioners about the impact of nutrition on health and disease management.

Merial described the company’s stepped-up support of AVMA’s programs and services as a long-term investment in veterinary medicine.

Washington Veteran to Represent Cattlemen

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has hired J. Burton Eller Jr. to manage the group’s legislative and regulatory office in Washington, DC, a return for the senior executive of the former National Cattlemen’s Association (NCA). Burton will report to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Terry Stokes, who served an additional role as interim head of the Washington office during the search for a new senior vice president of government affairs.

Eller served as senior vice president of government affairs for NCA from 1981 to 1991 before leading NCA as executive vice president from 1991 to 1996. He was also a member of the initial industry-wide long range plan task force and the subsequent oversight committee that facilitated the formation of NCBA.

Since leaving NCA in 1996, Eller has built on his “inside the beltway” experience as the president and CEO of an international trade association and, most recently, serving as deputy under secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Prior to his appointment as under secretary, Eller spent three years directing the Office of External Affairs for USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

August 2008 RENDER | back