A letter sent by “snail mail” brought a flash from the past recently – a copy of the December 1975 cover of Render. The individual who sent it received the magazine 40 years ago as an employee of a large rendering company and he wished to restart his subscription all these years later. Of course we signed him right up!

The feature in that particular issue so long ago was “economic review,” which today is called the “market report” and highlighted in every April issue. The cover image of an old calculator and handwritten bank checks piqued this editor’s interest about what the industry was facing four decades earlier. Fortunately, it wasn’t difficult to unearth a copy here at Render’s offices.

Editor Frank Burnham’s words depicted 1975 as “perhaps the most tumultuous and trying in the history of the US rendering industry.” Adjectives used by industry insiders to describe that year included “uncertain,” “disappointing,” and “dismal.” Besides a struggling consumer economy, the cost of doing business for renderers jumped 20 to 30 percent – mostly due to new air and water regulations – Asian markets “went to pot” while other foreign markets floundered, and production dropped significantly. Prices for tallow were as low as 11½ cents per pound while meat and bone meal dropped to $125 per ton. On the plus side, domestic consumption of tallow was the highest it had been in almost 30 years.

Fast forward 40 years and renderers seem to be challenged once again. Fat prices are down 50 percent from their highs just four years ago, export markets have declined, and West Coast renderers are losing fat and bone material to a new “food waste” movement. Average prices for tallow were 26 cents per pound while meat and bone meal was $368 per ton. On the bright side, demand for rendered products remains high, raw material supplies are on the upswing due to heavier livestock animals, and renderers remain united to battle the challenges coming their way.

So whether it is 1975 or 2015, the trials and tribulations of rendering will continue and Render will be here to cover it all.

April 2016 RENDER | back