Research Foundation on Solid Ground

By David Kirstein, Chairman, Fats and Proteins Research Foundation

The Fats and Proteins Foundation (FPRF) is on solid footing both financially and organizationally. Let’s recap a few milestones that brought the foundation to where it is today.

In late August 2010, a strategic planning session was held in Chicago, IL to reevaluate and prioritize FPRF’s mission and objectives for the next five to seven years. At the following annual meeting in October 2010, those recommendations from the planning session were adopted by the board of directors to bring FPRF to the next level in the areas of research, communications, and membership.

Since reorganizing the FPRF staff in 2011 and entering into a management services agreement with the National Renderers Association, administrative expenses were reduced and member contributions increased during 2012. FPRF also rewrote its contract with the Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center (ACREC) at Clemson University, reducing its minimum commitment from $300,000 to $200,000 per year. These steps alone have resulted in an increase of over $200,000 available and budgeted for research this fiscal year versus 2011, increasing the flexibility in funding worthy research whether they are at-large or additional projects through ACREC.

Since 2012, FPRF’s working relationship with ACREC has continued to improve with more relevant research proposals, improved accountability in completion of projects, and better communication of results. A number of projects have been completed and others are progressing with promising results. Some are resulting in patents and have stimulated interest by companies investigating the potential for commercialization.

Biosecurity work has become better focused and should provide the data renderers will need to justify the thermal inactivation conditions within their process control plans. FPRF anticipates enough of this work will be completed before the Food and Drug Administration begins enforcing such requirements that are anticipated as a result of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Other more recent projects are tackling operational issues such as wastewater treatment and odor control using novel technologies.

In addition, FPRF’s request for proposals process has been updated. Renewed efforts are being made by Drs. David Meeker and Jessica Meisinger to reintroduce FPRF funding availability to a new cadre of animal scientists as well as some of FPRF’s old friends that lost touch with the foundation in recent years.

FPRF has a diverse portfolio of research projects. An industry survey of members last year revealed that the current portfolio is consistent with members’ interests and priorities. Nevertheless, maintaining this relevance is an ongoing challenge since the rendering industry and those to whom we provide services and products is dynamic and ever-changing. A good example of following this dynamic is FPRF’s emerging focus on research that will give the industry a better understanding of what constitutes quality pet food ingredients.

Finally, all this good work done by staff, volunteers, and funded researchers is of little value unless it is communicated to the appropriate audiences. FPRF members want to see and understand their return on investment. The industry’s customers need supporting evidence for the value of rendered products or services. Regulators want to see data to support rendered product safety plans. The general public as well as customers and regulators need to understand renderers’ role in helping to sustain animal agriculture in a safe and environmentally friendly way. FPRF has the staff and vision needed to make this happen.

June 2013 RENDER | back