Still Growing Strong at 40!

By Tina Caparella

Magazine publishing is as cyclical as any industry, including the rendering industry. New publications start-up and are either successful very early on, or crash and burn within a matter of years, if not months. Like any business, magazines depend on sales revenue and a solid, quality product that is in high demand to sustain challenges from competitors or technology. But even long-time successful magazines, e.g., Life, can eventually meet their demise due to forces beyond their control.

However, one publication that was embraced from day one is still going strong as it begins its fortieth year in print: Render. Granted, with no competition, success can only be expected. But continued support from a multitude of organizations, companies, and individuals, and an industry that longs for knowledge, has fueled this achievement for what is now referred to as “The International Magazine of Rendering.”

A Winner from Day One

The Pacific Coast Renderers Association (PCRA) began putting out a small newsletter-type publication in the late 1950s titled Renderer as a way to disseminate news to its members. It was soon realized that industry-related information needed to reach a broader audience and be published more often than quarterly. So, after an extensive search for just the right individuals who could take on the task, in February 1972, the rendering industry had its own publication, Render, to inform PCRA members, customers, vendors, appropriate regulatory officials, government leaders, and those in associated industries on developments of interest in the rendering industry. The magazine was distributed free-of-charge as a public service to qualified individuals, including non-members of the association, a practice that continues today.

The first issue of Render, published every other month under the direction of Editor Frank A. Burnham, examined the “invisible industry,” which boasted “more than 300 companies involved in rendering,” including 245 independents with the others being ancillary operations to major meatpacking firms. At the time, U.S. renderers converted 30 billion pounds of inedible meat by-products into 10 billion pounds of useful rendered materials annually (compared to 59 billion and 35 billion, respectively, in 2010). Other topics Render reported on the first year was the beef and poultry industries, pollution control, separate interviews with the Sierra Club and expert nutritionist Dr. Thomas Jukes, and exporting.

The second year saw accolades pour in from the rendering and affiliated industries. Among the many subjects Render covered was the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to develop water pollution standards for 27 industries, including “meat product and rendering processes.” The magazine also examined trans-ocean transport, the Asian market, including Japan’s soap business, odor control, organic food products, animal nutrition, the energy crisis, and a report on the “invisible industry” appearing “imminently visible” to a host of federal, state, and local government agencies. At the end of its second year, Render began publishing what would become an annual report on the industry, providing statistics on proteins, fats, and greases and a glance into what the next year could bring.

In its third year, Render featured a special report on the National Renderers Association (NRA), discussed the Food and Drug Administration’s new Salmonella “voluntary” control program for the feed industry, and reported on grease thefts occurring across the United States due to the price per barrel of used grease soaring from $12 to $48.

Render’s fourth year in publication examined tallow, rendering “down under” (Australia), synthetic lubricants, and saw its subscriber base reach 7,500, not a bad growth rate for a new trade publication.

“We are pleased with the way Render has been accepted by the industry nationwide,” K.R. “Dick” Ellis, chairman of the PCRA Public Relations Committee, was quoted in the December 1975 issue of the magazine. “We in PCRA started out to do what we could to provide the industry with its own professional trade publication. We think we have accomplished that goal and certainly intend to continue to support that objective.” PCRA financially supported Render until the NRA assumed sponsorship in 1979 and continues to do so today. Render, operated as a non-profit, eventually became self-supporting by an increase in advertisers who invaluably contribute to the magazine’s ongoing success along with the wealth of talented industry individuals who provide informative articles.

In Render’s fifth year, tallow continued to be a topic of discussion along with palm oil, energy conservation, preventive maintenance, and fats in animal nutrition. But perhaps the biggest news was Render’s recognition as the best “manufacturing” magazine by the Western Publications Association for the October 1976 issue. The coveted “Maggie” was also awarded to Render in 1978 for “best agriculture and farm magazine.” And in 1991, the industry received front-page real estate in one of the country’s most prestigious newspapers, The Wall Street Journal, from an article written about Render and Burnham “going to bat for fat.”

Industry Thirsty for Knowledge

Those first five years proved the rendering and its affiliated industries longed for a valuable and dependable source of information and found it among the pages of Render. It also confirmed to PCRA leaders that the rendering industry had a story that needed to be told. That tale took the form of the industry’s first book in 1978, Rendering – The Invisible Industry, written by Render’s editor, Frank Burnham. The book covered the history of rendering; the industry as it existed in the 1970s; its social, environmental, and economic impact; its products, markets, and end uses; supporting industries; trading systems; and the industry’s future.

As then PRCA President Don Heddleston put it, “Certainly at one time we were invisible and wished to remain so. That time is long past. It is essential today that rendering be understood by the public and its contributions to society be accepted. Publication of this book, which we hope, through the industry, will find its way into the high schools and universities of this nation, is but another step.”

It was nearly 20 years before the industry published another book in 1996, The Original Recyclers, a joint venture between NRA, the Animal Protein Producers Industry, and the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation and edited by Dr. Don Franco, director of NRA Scientific Services at the time, and Winfield Swanson. A third book, Essential Rendering, edited by David Meeker, vice president, NRA Scientific Services, was published 10 years later, in 2006, after many changes had taken place in the industry in the decade prior. Both books featured multiple chapters written by industry experts in the areas of animal nutrition, technology, edible rendering, environmental issues, industry research, and the future of rendering in the twenty-first century.

A Thriving Global Publication

Over the past four decades, Render has focused on many of the same issues covered in those first five years coupled with a myriad of other challenges, government regulations, markets, animal diseases, technologies, and company news affecting the North American and global rendering industry. Two constants first begun so many years ago still remain a part of Render today – the yearly industry market report and NRA membership directory (which was first published in 1980), both highly anticipated features each April issue of Render.

The world has changed dramatically in the last 40 years: the world population has nearly doubled from 3.8 billion people to a projected seven billion in 2011; cities have expanded into what was once rural farmland; technology has evolved to the point that news is instantaneously delivered to the palm of one’s hand; a prion changed the way renderers do business and their products are perceived; and the rendering industry is now a global community where rules and regulations in one country can affect those a half a world away.

Some of the faces at Render have changed over the past 40 years. Burnham retired in 1996, passing the reins of leadership to the then associate editor, myself, his granddaughter, in fine rendering family tradition. And while the look of the magazine has undergone a few facelifts to ensure a refreshing appearance with the passing of years, the mission of “The International Magazine of Rendering” remains the same as it did 40 years ago: to promote the exchange of ideas and information between all facets of the rendering and associated industries.

As Render begins its fifth decade in print, we will continue to address the challenges and opportunities the industry will endure as it faces its own evolution. Render will also continue to promote the environmental advantages the global rendering industry provides to the community and the livestock industries. But more importantly, Render will continue to instill the passion the rendering industry has for its processes, its livelihood, and its contribution as the most “essential” and “greenest” industry!

We hope you join us for the next 40 years!

Newsline – February 2011 RENDER | back