Editor’s note – The following is a speech given by Kevin Golding, Rothsay, at the National Renderers Association 78th Annual Convention in October in Tucson, AZ.
It has been my pleasure to act as chairman of the National Renderers Association (NRA) for the past two years. The rendering industry has seen fairly solid financial success in recent years, and while prudent capital investment in our operations as well as good cost control have contributed to this success, we have benefited a great deal from continuing high commodity prices.
Certainly the underlying reasons for these high prices are not in our control, however, rendering industry representatives and NRA members have done an excellent job in continuing to make rendered products, services, and the industry’s contribution to the food chain more relevant than ever, both in North America and around the world.
This of course did not happen overnight and, in fact, considerable effort has been going on for many years to improve what we do and to tell our story. NRA staff, committee members, and industry participants in the areas of marketing, new product development, product safety, and legislative issues have had a huge positive impact and those efforts have enabled the industry’s current success.
While we have been remembering that awful and terrifying day in September 2001, it is interesting to pause and reflect on what was happening in the rendering industry then and how things have changed, or in some cases stayed the same, over the past 10 years. It is also interesting to see what we can learn from the past so we can better prepare for the future or at least get a glimpse of what it may look like.
In 2001, the NRA convention was in beautiful Naples, FL, where it was held last year. In 2001, the Lakers won the National Basketball Association championship, no big surprise, but then the World Series was not won by the Yankees but, surprisingly, and perhaps fittingly given the location of NRA’s convention this year, by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The price of gold was just over $200 per ounce and oil prices averaged $23 per barrel. The European Fat Processors and Renderers Association was formed by the merger between European Renderers and European Fat Melters Associations. In 2001, Google was still a small start-up company only a few years removed from operating in a garage, and the U.S. dollar would get you $1.50 in Canadian dollars.
Ten years ago the National Biodiesel Board estimated that U.S. biodiesel producers would generate approximately 20 million gallons, and the use of animal fats in biodiesel production was virtually non-existent. The NRA and its membership were very busy dealing with depressed protein prices, a severe drop in the price of fats from the previous year, as well as continuing to maintain and open international markets. Legislative issues were very topical at NRA meetings, and the North American rendering industry was still adjusting to the 1997 feed rule and also keeping a close eye on what was happening in Europe with the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis in full swing there.
In Canada 10 years ago, NRA members were meeting regularly with the government to explain the differences between Canada and the European Union and highlighting the fact that at that time we’d never had a case of BSE from an animal born in Canada.
In 2001, “sustainability” and “green” were words that we were beginning to hear more often, though the food chain was not paying very much attention at that point.
All of these points are a brief snapshot of what was going on 10 years ago in the news and rendering industry. As you can see, many things have changed, however, there are many things similar and many of the important issues in 2001 remain just as important today.
In 2011, the industry is seeing near record high prices for its finished products. There have been enhancements to the feed rule in North America and oil prices are near $90 per barrel (and have traded over $100 in the recent past). Biofuels production has greatly expanded and animal fats are now a key feedstock. Canadian and U.S. currency now trades at near par value and gold is $1,700 per ounce. The Yankees did not win the World Series this year and, oh yeah, that Google company now has a market cap of $188 billion.
The rendering industry continues to work hard to tell its story and maintain and open international markets. We deal with ongoing legislative issues and, of course, investigate new uses for rendered products. The words “green” and “sustainability” are now heard more often and the food chain is much more interested.
What will the next 10 years look like? Who is the next Google? Will oil be $200 per barrel, maybe gold $3,000 per ounce, and corn $15 per bushel? While we can’t really know, if the past 10 years are any indication of what lies ahead, we can expect rapid change in some areas, many of the same core issues that we deal with now to still require our attention, and we will need to closely watch emerging trends in North America and around the world.
Topics such as food security, water management and conservation, and, of course, sustainability may be key areas that will need our leadership. The rendering industry will need to be strong and financially sound and have an industry association that will ensure all stakeholders understand the value and the relevance of what renderers do. If the past is an indication of the future, then no doubt we will be up to this challenge!
In closing I would like to thank Tom Cook and the NRA staff for the great work they continue to do. I spent a day recently at the offices in Alexandria, VA, and if you get the chance I urge you to stop in and see them. I am sure you will be impressed with the caliber of their work and understanding of the rendering industry’s issues.
I would also like to thank everyone who participated on the various NRA committees over the past year and in particular highlight the effort of the people who were involved in the Dues Task Force (led by Mike Glenn) and Communications Task Force (led by Tim Guzek). I have worked closely with Ross Hamilton, Darling International and incoming first vice chairman, and J.J. Smith, Valley Proteins and incoming chairman, over the past several years and I can assure you that with these two men leading the NRA in the immediate future, we are in very good hands.
December 2011 RENDER | back