Renderers are not immune from the disruption facing the red meat sector. The topic was central to the programme at this year’s joint NZ and Australian Renderers Symposium, hosted by the New Zealand Renderers Group of the Meat Industry Association (NZRG) and held in Waitangi in March.
MIA technical executive Kevin Cresswell reports the event was well attended – including by international participants from the US, Canada, Germany and Australia – to hear updates from the New Zealand and Australian organisations and also the World Renderers Association and the Fats & Protein Research Foundation.
Delegates were challenged, entertained and educated by a range of speakers considering disruption, social licence to operate and topics relevant to the production of valuable products from the red meat sector’s ‘waste’ streams.
“Probably the presentation provoking the most discussion was Victoria University School of Design’s associate professor Anne Galloway who asked whether the rendering industry needs to worry about social license,” says Cresswell. “After explaining what social license is, Anne highlighted the public concerns of the rendering industry as: environmental sustainability, animal welfare and rights, and labour relations and human rights.
“In presenting her case on how industry can better respond to these concerns, Anne likened disputes between industry and ‘activist’ groups, to a disagreement with your partner. It’s not about being right or wrong but all about changing perceptions and forging companionships.”
The impacts of alternative proteins on the red meat sector were considered by Beef + Lamb NZ Ltd’s programme leader for market research and intelligence, Gareth Williams.
“Gareth discussed four scenarios: one where red meat is pushed to the side of the table which would mean the industry needs to innovate; another where red meat is the specialty choice which would mean that the industry needs to premiumise; thirdly, where red meat is the reluctant choice and industry would need to diversify; and lastly where red meat is the everyday choice and the industry could expand,” says Kevin.
Erich Livengood, a principal advisor for the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)’s policy and trade strategy team, talked about whether the possible disruption in the agricultural value chain was ‘Hype or Hereafter’.
“He noted that disruption is part of the landscape and pervasive and that ideas are cheap – and implementation less so,” reports Creswell, adding Livengood also referred to following the (investment) money, commercialisation attempts and highlighted viable candidates.
“He also said monitoring performance of products and consumer response is critical to support decisions and ensure engagement with new business models.”
The renderers also considered the global market for rendered products (Kent Swisher, US National Renderers’ Association), NZ sheep and beef situation and outlook (Rob Gibson, B+LNZ Ltd), the changing times for tallow (Toby Escott, GrainCorp Ltd), the lifecycle costs of a successful anaerobic digestion project (Kunal Kumar, ReNu Energy Ltd), recent developments on species identification (Kate Griffiths of the Australian National Measurement Institute) and render safe consumables (Darren Harpur, Aduro Biopolymers).
Each day concluded with networking drinks and dinners sponsored by Haarslev Industries and Keith Engineering, respectively.
The red meat sector’s co-products – hides and skins, tripe runners and casings, edible offals, prepared and processed meat, meat and bone meal, tallow and other products – handled by the renderers are a valuable export resource for New Zealand. According to the latest MIA analysis of export statistics, co-products earned over $1.5 billion in the year to end March 2018, a lift of six percent over the previous year. The majority went to China (23 percent), Italy, Australia, the US (nine percent each) and Singapore (six percent).