Recognizing the True Value of Animal By-products

According to Niels Leth Nielsen, president of the European Fat Processors and Renderers Association (EFPRA), there is every reason to be positive going into the new year.

“We’ve made great strides in 2011 on many fronts, working closely with feed chain partners, regulators, and legislators on issues as diverse as the animal by-products regulation and the Renewable Energy Directive,” Nielsen commented.

The new animal by-products (ABP) regulation came into force in March 2011, affecting every renderer and fat processor in Europe. Ensuring that the new rules are interpreted and implemented correctly has required dedication by EFPRA staff and effective communication with regulators and frontline businesses in every European Union (EU) member state.

EFPRA’s efforts to improve the closeness of working relationships with the European Commission have been effective. Through continued liaison with the commission, the industry’s concerns were noted and many suggestions adopted. Renderers in Europe are pleased that the redrafted ABP regulation is now a workable framework where safety is paramount and within which the industry can continue to develop the facilities, services, and technologies necessary to better serve consumers.

European headlines last year were dominated by the commission proposal to reintroduce processed animal proteins (PAPs) to selected livestock feed, and they will be again in 2012. From the outset, EFPRA has stuck to one primary objective: to focus on the science that now underpins the understanding of the environmental and economic. The commission’s ongoing commitment to change, despite the concerns expressed by some member states, clearly underlines the view of Koen Van Dyck, head of unit, European Commission Directorate-General for Health and Consumers, that the value of these proteins should not be lost as a result of perceived risk – risk which, according to the best available science, is negligible.

Europe’s rendering industry is mindful of the concerns of consumers and of the food businesses that depend directly upon their purchasing power. However, EFPRA’s own anecdotal research suggests that there is a significant and unrepresented body of consumers who want supermarket shelves stocked with safe, value-for-money poultry and pork reared in Europe using European resources – including PAPs.

The PAP debate forced EFPRA to review its own communications role in 2011. Historically, the association has focused on enabling members, member states, and food chain partners to share knowledge. Last year saw EFPRA take on a new role providing basic facts, science, and economic and environmental information about PAPs to a consumer audience. Traffic to the Web site confirms that it’s been very well received and the industry takes pride in the straightforward, accurate, and objective information contained on its pages.

The role of EFPRA’s members extends beyond the feed chain as work with the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) shows. The association’s leadership is increasingly confident that regulators in Brussels, Belgium, understand what the industry has to offer, firstly as a processor of residue materials and then in the production of renewable products in the form of biofuels.

“It is absolutely essential that in 2012 the RED reflects the true value of our processes and products,” Nielsen noted. “Without that recognition we face a future starved of the investment necessary to meet the demands of both regulators and the food industry we serve with regard to production of sustainable biofuels.”

And while one eye is kept firmly fixed on Europe, EFPRA’s goals for 2012 require a look further afield too. The association’s commitment to the World Renderers Organization underlines a core belief that best practice and technological advances will result from working together beyond the boundaries of language and geography.

EFPRA’s work is and has always been underpinned by research. To that end, the group will continue to assist the Fats and Protein Research Foundation in 2012 to bring about the advances in knowledge and technology that have been touched on already.

“As with so many sectors, our greatest long-term challenge and opportunity lies in sustainability,” Nielsen stated. “In the coming year we must continue to tread that path with care, focusing the minds of those who influence our industry on the impact of their actions. We must be mindful, for example, that as a result of regulation, European animal proteins are attracting higher prices elsewhere in the world, while Europe imports alternatives such as soya from South America at great environmental cost.

“There is much work to be done, but I believe that 2012 can be the year in which we begin to recognize the true value of animal by-products,” he continued. “We [EFPRA] will certainly be working hard to ensure that’s the case.”

February 2012 RENDER | back