Achieving Strategic Objectives

By Erika Weltzien, Chairman, Fats and Proteins Research Foundation

It has been an honor serving as chairman of the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation (FPRF) for the past two years. It is hard to believe that six years have passed since I became an officer of this foundation. It has been a truly rewarding experience and I hope I have made a difference.

It has also been nearly six years since FPRF reaffirmed its mission to support research that benefits the rendering industry and developed a strategic plan. These are still relevant today and the foundation continues to make progress in achieving its objectives.

The best strategic plans are simple and FPRF’s is exactly that with three basic strategic pillars: research, communications, and membership.

The first objective was to tackle research by establishing a predictable and strong contracting and approval process to identify and fund research that addresses the most strategically important issues and opportunities of the rendering industry. It was also decided that research would be conducted where FPRF has a mutually beneficial relationship and with institutions that possess expertise in multiple disciplines. The strategic intent was that FPRF’s research model would be known as world class.

Secondly, FPRF would communicate information about its research in the style and format that its members, customers, and decision makers need with the goal that FPRF would be known by its stakeholders as the best source of knowledge regarding rendering. This would, in turn, help realize the vision to build a clear and compelling value proposition to current and potential members so that new members would join FPRF because they would be confident their contributions would make a significant and measurable difference.

So where is FPRF today? It is safe to say the foundation has done an excellent job realizing most of its objectives in the research area.

• A robust research contracting and approval process is in place.

• FPRF’s research portfolio is focused on four key strategic areas that drive the most value for the industry: nutrition, added-value and novel uses, biosecurity and food safety, and environment and sustainability.

• FPRF’s partnership with Clemson University’s Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center (ACREC) is yielding increasingly innovative and relevant research projects with its multidisciplinary approach. Examples include:
- the development of functionalized nanoparticles for odor control and potentially also as an antimicrobial against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria;
microbial synthesis of omega-3 fatty acids from animal fats;
- incorporation of microcapsules containing a self-healing agent into animal protein-based composites for use in the automotive industry; and
- ultrafiltration technology for chemical-free waste-water processing.

FPRF is attracting higher caliber “at-large” proposals, particularly in the areas of pathogen control and pet nutrition.

• Some of FPRF’s research and development investments are at or near commercialization. A great example is the development of a potent natural antioxidant derived from animal blood.

FPRF is embarking on a new initiative to facilitate collaborative relationships that will focus on research of rendered products in pet food.

FPRF has responded quickly and directly to member issues and concerns by commissioning research and publishing white papers in the areas of sustainability and thermal destruction of pathogens.

The foundation is now working to expand its efforts in communications and membership. Communication is becoming increasingly important, not only to provide information about the research the foundation supports on behalf of its members, but also to proactively educate regulators, policymakers, and the public on the sustainability of the rendering industry. FPRF is jointly working with the National Renderers Association (NRA) to put together a membership package that outlines the benefits of joining the foundation.

What makes involvement in FPRF especially gratifying is the cooperative nature of the members with respect to supporting research for the common good of the industry. This is not the case in many other industry associations and is what allows FPRF to stay focused and make progress in areas that are most important to the rendering industry.

In closing, I would like to thank the FPRF members for their generous contributions and the volunteers who, in addition to contributing financially, invest significant amounts of time to review research proposals to ensure the studies will be relevant to the industry as a whole and that funds are allocated in a manner that maximizes a return on investment. I would also like to acknowledge Dr. Annel Greene who has served as center director for ACREC since its inception and works tirelessly on the industry’s behalf. Last but not least, I want to thank the NRA staff who support the foundation in all its efforts.

FPRF is on the right path and in good hands moving into the future.

December 2016 RENDER | back