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.
Organising conferences and events is one of the key services that IFFO provides for its members – a chance to share information, learn, meet new contacts and, most importantly, do business while the world’s industry is in one place. I am often asked how we decide where to hold conferences, usually followed by helpful suggestions of future venues (Hawaii anyone?). With our Washington DC conference just weeks away, I thought I would share a little of what goes in to a successful event.
Firstly, we choose a venue that works for conferences. This means a city that is accessible, safe, has the right facilities and is attractive. Members want good restaurants for business dinners and opportunities for side meetings – a large hotel lobby (and bar!) with plenty of seating really helps. To keep our events accessible, we rotate on a three year cycle between the Americas (this year), Asia and Europe. The IFFO board chooses the city two years before the intended event, and our management team then set about researching hotels capable of accommodating us. Our members have told us many times they all want to be in the same hotel, the emphasis on networking means several hotels dotted around a convention centre just doesn’t work for us.
Last month, I was sitting on a train from London to Brussels, one of many pilgrims heading to the Seafood Expo, the largest trade show for the seafood industry in the world. I was reflecting on the twenty-five years or so that I have been coming to the show, during which the world, and the industry, has changed from doing business with a handshake to one confirmed by email and where bad weather in China means the price of shrimp in Louisiana goes up. Those of us who have been around for a while now deal with more data than we would have dreamed possible when we started our careers in the pre-internet era, when a telex machine was the cutting edge of communication and telephones all had wires.Update - May 2017 - 292.pdf
It was pointed out by a seafood buyer, with many years’ experience, that the fish industry should stop all the in-fighting and get better at working to increase seafood consumption. In the article published in Intrafish on 10th March, Bob Field, retiring from Walmart owned Sam’s Club, compared the seafood industry to other proteins and we didn’t do well. As a buyer, the beef industry would be working with him to promote beef in general whereas the seafood industry were more occupied with claiming wild was better than farmed, or this origin was better than some other.
Why is this? Is it because the fish industry has historically been incredibly diverse, both in the number of species handled but also the location and methods of catch or production? Is it because fishermen are independent sorts, often at sea because they don’t want to be organised and supervised so closely as land farmers? Whatever the reason, Bob has a point...
Update - April 2017 - 291.pdf
During the USA Presidential Election campaign, and since the election of President Trump, a new concept has entered the modern language – fake news. The appetite for news, preferably sensational, and the “more clicks means more adverts means more money” trend has led to whole communities of fake news writers, like the one reported in Macedonia. Or was this also fake?
It’s hard to know who to believe anymore but the first question should always be “How can you know that”? Well, at least for the IFFO statistics we produce for members, we can answer that question. Our Business Information department, headed by Dr Enrico Bachis, has spent several years building up a network of sources which can be cross-referenced and compared. We recognise this is one of the key services to IFFO members and will continue to develop the range of reports we offer.
Alternative feed ingredients were featured by the industry news site Intrafish during February, including a letter from IFFO reminding buyers that consumers have views on how fish should be fed. We want to see the aquaculture industry continue to grow and accept that additional feed ingredient sources are required. However, the alternatives should be as well as, not instead of, fish based products.
A visitor from another planet who happened to drop in to an IFFO conference would think humans were mostly male, mostly over 30 (some would say 50) and believers in old fashioned talking face to face – getting to know people, rather than just using technology to communicate. Any of us with teenage children will have seen talking being overtaken by sending texts or other digital messages via the permanently-to-hand smartphone, even if the receiving person is in the same room. A teenagers’ day can be made or destroyed by the digital drip onto their Facebook page.
President Trump knows all about this and over 20 million people know his thoughts in the time it takes to hit 140 characters on a keyboard. While IFFO members may not be quite at this level, we need to move with the times. Social media is part of daily life for better or worse so we are asking members if you would like us to have a social media presence. The golden rule is “don’t start into social media unless you can resource it properly” – having unanswered comments or questions on a Facebook page is a good way of looking unprofessional. Resource means cost so this is one of the questions in our annual Member Survey, along with the tracking questions we ask each year to make sure we are delivering a good service. Should we invest in some additional resource at IFFO or leave it to our teenagers?Update - February 2017 - 289.pdf