IFFO's Monthly Update constitutes a key communications tool for the marine ingredients industry and its main players. This report is dedicated to the needs of IFFO's members, bringing together industry news and insights from our diverse network.
As my first editorial for Update, this is a good chance to introduce myself and give readers an insight into what my aims are in the coming months. This is the busiest time of year for IFFO with our Annual Conference just around the corner, so the team are hard at work preparing conference materials, presentations and coordinating delegates. Registration is record high and with an impressive rundown of speakers and panel sessions, this promises yet again to be the event of the year for our industry. I’ve previously attended as a member and I’m thoroughly looking forward to being on the other side, hosting and being part of the IFFO team.
My first priority is getting to know our members, learning how we can continue to support, represent and lead on their behalf. My previous roles within the feed industry and knowledge of IFFO as a premium member will also add a broader value chain approach and gives me a solid platform from which to build. I am also very fortunate to be inheriting a strong legacy from Andrew, he has built a close knit and dynamic international team who I look forward to getting to know better.
Leaving a company you have been running for some years is a difficult time to endure. Decisions beyond a certain time horizon really should be left to my successor and days become long. Colleagues you have recruited and work closely with are wondering how the new boss will see their value and I feel responsible for their anxiety.
There is no need to worry as the IFFO Board Selection Committee found a great replacement for me in Petter Martin Johannessen, who not only brings extensive industry experience but is also very familiar with IFFO. My primary concern now is to give him the best possible start in his new role and ensure the IFFO organisation continues to run smoothly as I depart and Petter arrives. Fortunately we are just in that dip in activity between launching the Rome Annual Conference and the immediate run up to the event – if early registrations are anything to go by it will be another successful conference.
Spring and autumn are conference seasons, times when summer and winter holidays don’t clash with the well-established and often much anticipated chances to get together with people in a similar line of work. Often events are close to each other in the calendar, competing for diary space and expense account budget but they provide opportunities to learn, share information and maintain those personal interactions that we humans enjoy.
Seeing a wide range of people in a short period of time, perhaps over consecutive events, also highlights trends in attitudes and a catch-phrase I am hearing a lot at the moment is “pre-competitive collaboration” – let’s call it PCC. In these times of anti-trust regulations (is anyone else following the USA Bumblebee tuna company legal action?), you could be forgiven for running a mile if asked to sit down with competitors but, fortunately, there is enough wisdom around to realise some problems (a) cannot be solved by individual companies and (b) in no way constitute price fixing. Of course it helps if a group consists of buyers and sellers, and not just sellers alone, but these PCC mechanisms offer a way for industry to solve problems at a speed that would impossible to do otherwise.
If you live in the EU, you will have been deluged by emails as a result of new data protection regulations that came into force at the end of May. Businesses, including organisations like IFFO, have for many years had to protect any personal data they hold but must now make it clear what they hold and for what it is used. For members of the public, this is a good thing as many will be worried about the amount of information about us that is now collected, stored and often sold to others. Just searching for a product on Google means your email address can be sold to advertisers and you might receive unwanted messages offering their products or services. For lawyers, it is also good news as thousands of small businesses scramble for advice on how to comply with the regulations.
One of the databases we keep is for conference registrations and you will be pleased to know you can / can shortly (delete) register for the 2018 IFFO Annual Conference in Rome (15th – 17th October). One of the highlights this year will be a panel of senior executives and commentators from the press and aquaculture industry, giving their perspective on the marine ingredients industry and the challenges we face. As usual we are offering Early Bird discount rates so make the most of the saving and book early!
If anyone wanted to write a book about a global trade and the constant changes that happen to those involved, the fishmeal and fish oil industry would be great case study. It has always been an international business but, within the lifetime of those still working in the industry, the uses are completely different, the markets have become worldwide and the prices obtained have tripled. “Business as Usual” involves understanding continually changing factors including global agricultural commodity markets, currencies and weather patterns.
As if this was not enough, eCommerce has moved the rate of change up a gear, with new channels and distribution options available to producers and more delivery choices and information on the products available to consumers. A presentation on developments within the Alibaba group at the April 2018 Brussels Seafood Expo showed just what is already possible and it’s good news for aquaculture and therefore the marine ingredients industry. The Chinese population is growing, their disposable income increasing and their appetite for fish exceeds many other markets. The sources of wild caught fish in China are very limited so it’s aquaculture that will benefit from eCommerce making seafood more available.