WRO: Moving Forward with Purpose

By Stephen Woodgate, Second Vice President, World Renderers Organization

Budapest, Hungary, was the host city for the latest World Renderers Organization (WRO) meeting, held as part of the European Fat Processors and Renderers Association (EFPRA) Congress June 3-5, 2010. The location of the congress signifies the importance of Hungary in Europe, particularly when it comes to agriculture in general and livestock production in particular.

The previous WRO activity as part of the International Feed Industry Federation Global Feed and Food Congress in Cancun, Mexico, was briefly mentioned in the June 2010 issue of Render. At the Budapest meeting, the importance of such an event and WRO’s ability to be involved was emphasized again. Although the attendance of some – including myself and Albert Tacon – was prevented by a certain Icelandic volcano, other WRO members present at the congress in Cancun stepped forward and performed extra duties. Particular thanks are due to colleagues Niels Nielsen, president of EFPRA, and Dr. Sergio Nates, president of the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation, who presented my and Tacon’s talks, respectively.

Although the Budapest congress was an unofficial WRO meeting, it did not reduce the in-depth or detail in discussions on a range of topics. Communications was highlighted as a major area of focus. The design and operation of the WRO Web site (www.worldrenderers.org) was complimented and members discussed the options of a regular newsletter to members or the chance to gain a recurring slot in Render magazine. Members quickly and unanimously agreed that a contribution to Render was a “not to be missed” and much appreciated opportunity to spread the word about the WRO.

On behalf of the National Renderers Association (NRA) international marketing team, Kent Swisher and Bruce Ross proposed that WRO adopt a more progressive and global strategy covering a range of topics, such as agreed terminology, selling the rendering industry better, overcoming negative perceptions, and influencing opinion formers. The idea was welcomed and a detailed strategy will be examined in more depth at the fall WRO meeting in Naples, FL.

Membership numbers are rising, mainly due to sterling efforts by Nates, acting as an honorary WRO membership secretary. However, all present were encouraged to seek out new members wherever they could. To help with this, WRO President Alan von Tunzelman agreed to write an official and open invitation letter/flyer to prospective WRO members to be used in the continuing drive for wider membership.

The opportunity to engage with and influence the World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE, was discussed in some detail. Previously, WRO had decided to hold off on a written approach to OIE requesting that a memorandum of understanding between WRO and OIE be signed. WRO members now feel enough new members have been attracted to the WRO, particularly from developing countries, that this request to OIE should now be sent. This decision will be ratified at the next meeting, which hopefully could lead to even more WRO members around the table.

One area of contact with OIE considered a success for WRO was in relation to the draft OIE terrestrial code chapter on Bacillus anthracis. The first draft had proposed that only the European Union (EU) pressure cooking method was effective at safely dealing with potential presence of Bacillus anthracis spores. Thanks in part to WRO member efforts, the final draft approved the EU pressure system or any validated equivalent system. With this text, countries around the world should now be free to choose the most appropriate rendering process conditions rather than be forced to use the unnecessarily aggressive and expensive pressure processing method.

Looking both backward and forward, members heard from Tunzelman about the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) meeting in Seattle, WA, held in October 2009. He considered WRO presence at such an important and strategic event very worthwhile. The focus on consumers also gives WRO a lead into more horizontal areas of discussion with regard to animal feeding, including welfare, ethics, and choice. Once again the subject of communication becomes topical, particularly in making one think about what to say and how to say it. As a result of Tunzelman’s positive feedback on this meeting, it was decided to proceed with attendance at the next GAA event in Kuala Lumpor, Malaysia, in October 2010.

Not forgetting the EFPRA Congress itself, the annual Technical Symposium this year was handed over to the sponsors and exhibitors, who gave short presentations about technology advances. A total of eight presentations were given with the overall impression being that this was a very useful session that raised awareness from both the audience and suppliers alike.

During the congress itself there were both political and topical presentations of direct relevance to all WRO members and especially those outside the EU that have business relationships with EU member states. Speakers included Dr. Alberto Laddomada from the EU Commission (DG-Sanco) who talked about the new EU animal by-products regulation and its position within Europe and relationship with non-EU countries, with particular relevance to import and export. Dr. John Griffin, representing the biohazards panel of the European Food Safety Authority, gave a very comprehensive outline of how processes and products are risk-assessed by a panel of independent scientists.

A national speaker, Professor Sandor Fekete, from the Hungarian Academy of Science, proved to be both intellectually stimulating and very engaging at the same time. Finally, Patrick Coelenbier wrapped up the session with his usual and very professional overview of EU livestock numbers and trends, together with a snapshot of EFPRA member activities and progress during the previous year. To his and the audience’s surprise, raw material processed and production of protein meals and rendered fats had all risen in 2009 compared to 2008. In due course, the EFPRA statistical information will be posted to the WRO Web site statistics page to appear alongside production information from other regions of the world.

The next (and annual) WRO meeting will be in Naples, FL, in conjunction with the NRA convention October 27-30, 2010. Next year, an unofficial WRO meeting will be held at the EFPRA Congress in Dublin, Ireland, June 8-11, 2011, while the official annual meeting will take place at the Australian Renderers Association Congress in Sydney, Australia, July 27-30, 2011.

International Report – August 2010 RENDER | back