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.
Now that we’re back from IFFO’s 58th Annual Conference, it’s a good time to reflect on the main messages and act on them. With delegates attending from across the globe and from each area of our industry, discussions during these important three days were very fruitful.
It was a great opportunity to meet and get to know our close knit community of members and supporting organisations and I’ve come away with some clear takeaways from discussions, presentations and panel discussions. Marine ingredients play a vital and essential role also in the future of the aquaculture and animal feed industries. To communicate the true value that marine ingredients play, we need to expand our focus in the broader value chain. It is our responsibility to then engage and communicate in these key areas, being transparent as an industry and continuing to follow an evidence based approach.
Four weeks have already passed since I joined IFFO and it’s been both a hectic and fascinating month. The team is busily preparing for our conference, which is just around the corner, as well as attending the important industry events held at this time in the year. I was fortunate to be able to visit China, attending the 14th JCI Conference and a series of meetings with significant stakeholders. IFFO’s China team cover a broad range of expertise and through getting to know their work, and meetings with groups such as Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MOA) and China Feed Industry Association (CFIA), I have a deeper understanding of this vast market.
The more insight I get into the marine ingredients industry, the more I see the opportunities for our continued development and growth. Value chain focus and understanding the new supply chain dynamics will become more and more important to meet the customer’s expectations. In my recent meetings on my travels, I have experienced a great interest in fishmeal and fish oil as high quality raw materials for feed. IFFO is following an evidence based approach, identifying gaps of knowledge, carrying out research and using this to communicate the unique role that these ingredients play.
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.