Communications: Send, Receive, and Respond!

By Stephen Woodgate
First Vice President, World Renderers Organization


Communications is a major lifeblood of the rendering industry, but if the message is not sent to the right people, received by them, or responded to, it has very limited value. So, what is the best way to achieve success for all three of these aspects?

One of the main issues facing the World Renderers Organization (WRO) is the infrequency of face-to-face meetings. One official meeting per year and one or two more unofficial meetings, depending on the cycle of the Australian Renderers Association symposium, is the norm. Yet not all WRO members attend all meetings, and this may lead to concerns about lack of involvement by some. The prospect of coming together in a crisis may be a reassuring prospect but it is not ideal. And who wants another crisis?

The WRO has considered how to address this challenge, particularly during periods when there are no major upheavals or bad news stories. The organization has also thought about ideas in order to engage both current and future members, for in the latter, there is opportunity to grow and be more useful to all members.

The WRO leadership, which consists of David Kaluzny II, president, Steve Woodgate, first vice president, and Tim Juzefowicz, second vice president, has teamed up with Fernando Mendizabal from Mexico and past WRO presidents Andy Bennett, Niels Nielsen, and Alan von Tunzelman to form a “communications executive.” The purpose of this group is to devise and then execute a communications plan.

Via this column in Render magazine, the WRO has been able to reach many interested and relevant people in the rendering industry. Using the expertise and knowledge of the authors, who are not professional journalists, the WRO has made a reasonable attempt at producing articles of interest. This has been a great opportunity and the column has been well received, but is it enough? Is something missing?

The WRO communications executive is considering the following two ideas at present.

Publication of a quarterly e-newsletter: The objectives of this communication are two-fold. First, to inform WRO members what issues and ideas are being discussed, acted upon, and reported through a different medium other than this column, i.e., to let them know they are getting great value for the money by being members of WRO. Second, the same communication can be used to promote WRO to new members as a sort of promotional flyer. In this way, potential members can see the type of topics being addressed by the WRO, and hopefully encouraging new memberships with the organization. Use of the Internet (if well managed and targeted) will also overcome some of the issues related to limited face-to-face meetings and total reliance upon publications such as Render. Other communication tools, including Twitter and Facebook, will also be considered.

Presence at global events: WRO should increase its involvement in promotional activities, especially in terms of non-rendering congresses and events. Examples include the Global Aquaculture Alliance, Codex, Food and Agriculture Organization, and International Feed Industry Federation meetings. With the Global Food and Feed IV coming up in April 2013 in South Africa, this is a good time to consider what can be done in the future. There will likely be many more opportunities available and WRO should, in my opinion and subject to funding, maintain as high a profile as possible in all aspects of its work. Of course, the funding issue brings us back to membership, which is the source of WRO income, making the overall initiative of trying to increase membership, and increasing ownership and activity for all, completely justified by better communications.

In addition to the ideas mentioned above, a new initiative from the Foodchain and Biomass Renewables Association (Fabra), a member of WRO based in the United Kingdom (UK), may also be of interest to those outside of the UK. Developed in conjunction with Beacon Synergy, the Fabra Education and Training Initiative was launched in April 2012 and attended by over 50 representatives from members and regulators of the food chain. Speakers included senior regulators, industry and education executives from the United Kingdom, and Nielsen, who is the current president of the European Fat Processors and Renderers Association.

The online training made available at the launch is designed to help meat processors, abattoirs, and butchers improve efficiency, develop new skills, and increase hands-on understanding associated with the demands of European Union regulations on animal by-products. In addition, the training counts toward an accredited UK educational qualification.

The fact that the training modules are specifically tailored to meet the needs of abattoirs, butchers, and food processing owners has been a challenge that industry leaders acknowledge Fabra has successfully achieved. The method of delivery also includes the concept of best practice for procedures regarding identifying, sorting, staining, labeling, and transporting different categories of animal by-products. All of these are clearly explained within the program by using a range of characters related to their specific jobs. The training materials are currently delivered in English, but the design of the modules allows for easy translation into any appropriate language spoken in the UK, European Union, or wider global communities, including Polish, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Alongside the industry-specific training, Fabra has launched a suite of online educational videos designed to help the general public develop a greater understanding of the processing of animal by-products in the wider meat chain. The training materials and information about the initiative are available at www.fabraeducation.co.uk.

In summing up, Nielsen gave Fabra credit for the initiative. “I would like to comment on the modules themselves,” he said. “The quality of the design, engagement, and the accessibility of these modules ensure that everyone who handles animal by-products at any stage in the chain can benefit from them. By adopting best practice, your UK meat production industry will not only increase its efficiency and the value of its by-products, but it will also gain consumer and regulator confidence. Today, I have seen that the United Kingdom is leading the way. I congratulate you and look forward to discussing what I’ve seen with colleagues in Europe and indeed around the world.”

The Fabra initiative is perhaps one idea worthy of taking forward to wider audiences, and the WRO leadership welcomes the opportunity to discuss this at the next WRO meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on June 7, 2012.


June 2012 RENDER | back