Opportunities and challenges for the rendering sector

A message from the new EFPRA President Robert Figgener

Following six years as Vice-President, Mr Robert Figgener has taken the helm at EFPRA becoming President at the recent 22nd EFPRA Congress. He has broad experience of the rendering sector following ten years as Managing Director at SARIA International and deep knowledge of renewable fuels from his work at EcoMotion (a subsidiary of SARIA). Mr Figgener shares his thoughts on what the future holds for the rendering sector during his presidency.

Dear EFPRA members, colleagues and friends, I feel very honoured to be elected as the new President of EFPRA and I’m very much looking forward to serving our industry in the coming years. At the same time, I would like to thank my predecessor Sjors Beerendonk for the excellent work in this role over the past six years. One of the major achievements of my predessor’s tenure was undoubtedly the lifting of  the feed ban. He has paved the way for this and several other important initiatives and I am more than happy to continue on this successful path.

The basis for our industry remains strong in the long-term and short-term. Renderers provide natural and sustainable ingredients that fit the needs of our client base. It’s recognised that our products contribute to decarbonising feed and fuel supply chains as well as creating a more circular economy.

At this moment, we are dealing with falling commodity prices for meals and fats, but these are just normal fluctuations, fundamentally we are in a good position. There is some understandable concern that environmental pressure will result in a fall in meat consumption. In fact, there is already evidence of this happening although food price inflation is probably a bigger driver here in recent years.

As we are all aware, less meat means fewer livestock and less raw material for by-products, but people will continue to eat meat. Moreover, environmental initiatives present numerous opportunities for the rendering sector.

Decarbonise, circularity and sustainability

Decarbonise, circularity and sustainability are the key words. The GFLI study shows rendered meals and fats as being superior to many other ingredients for use in animal feed with respect to carbon footprint. Nutritional studies of PAPs in feed also show favourable characteristics for animal health and development.

It is most desirable from a business and sustainability angle to use our products inside Europe. But we are still in a situation where many valuable PAPs are exported because of regulatory challenges. For example, the partial lifting of feed ban is certainly a big success from my predecessor’s tenure. However, the zero tolerance levels on inter-species mixing that apply to pig and poultry PAPs make it unworkable for many enterprises to use them.

Of course, it is not just regulators but major retailers that also put restrictions on our products so there is a huge amount of work to do here. Sustainability and decarbonization are likely to be the key to removing some of the opposition. And I would like to emphasise that what we are asking for is a level playing field because imports to the Union from third countries can be produced using ingredients that are restricted in the EU itself.

Aviation fuel

A market presenting fewer obvious obstacles is for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The market for SAF is practically endless because the fuel can be used without modifications to existing aircraft engines or infrastructure. Aviation emissions account for approximately 12% of global transportation emissions and contribute about 2-3% of all carbon dioxide emissions. SAF can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 80% throughout its lifecycle, compared to traditional aviation fuel. Here the issue is the availability of feedstock because we anticipate a long-term stable market.

Petfood and animal feed producers also make use of rendered fat and point out that in the reuse hierarchy feed shall be preferable to fuel. At present, these markets do not and cannot absorb all the production and qualities, so we have available raw material for SAF. It is a dynamic situation, but we can be positive that there are several end-uses competing for our products which can only be a good thing.

Keep sight of the basics

With all the talk about sustainability, we must not lose sight of the basics: health and biosecurity. Animal diseases and zoonoses are probably a greater concern than ever. African Swine Fever and Avian Influenza are already endemic affecting the supply chain with high social and financial impact. To date, renderers have been instrumental in containing the problem, but this is an ongoing battle.

We need to work with governments to ensure that the physical and institutional infrastructure for safe and quick eradication of animal diseases remains intact all over Europe. Returning to an earlier point, stable markets for animal by-products mean renderers have the resources and confidence to invest in the infrastructure that helps secure human and animal health.


EFPRA will continue to be a voice for renderers in Brussels. We have won some battles such as the partial lifting of feed ban, the export of ruminant PAP to third countries and Category 2 meal as fertiliser for export. But so far, we haven’t seen a paradigm shift from being seen as an industry to be regulated to a partner that can deliver health and sustainability goals within the EU and beyond.

I am looking forward to serving our industry in the coming years and my priorities are to achieve a level playing field with third countries and the use of ruminant PAP in aquafeed. I hope when my successor makes his inaugural speech as President, he is congratulating me on achieving this and much else.

All the best.

Robert Figgener, EFPRA President.