AFIA conference draws record crowd

The Purchasing & Ingredient Suppliers Conference focused on industry 'game changers'

The American Feed Industry Association hosted its annual Purchasing & Ingredient Suppliers Conference in New Orleans, La., March 9-10, with record-breaking numbers—630 registrants. The second highest PISC attendance was in 2014 in Las Vegas, Nev., with slightly more than 600 attendees.

PISC—"Where Business Gets Done!" —is a highly regarded industry opportunity to receive updates on the state of the animal feed industry, hear market analyses, outlooks and perspectives, and join discussions on critical issues affecting the various sectors of the industry. This year's program offered attendees an overview of avian influenza—past, present and future—what to expect as Food Safety Modernization Act compliance dates inch closer and leadership advice from retired United States Army Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré, commander of Joint Task Force Katrina and Global Preparedness Authority, on creating a "culture of preparedness" in America.

During his presentation, Honoré challenged PISC attendees to not fear the impossible, especially as they are faced with a growing issue—the world's population.

"We would not be here today if generations before us did not attempt the impossible," Honoré said. "Things that we think we can't do today, we've got to figure out how to do it," if not, the generations to come will be left with water, food and energy issues.

Richard Brock, a long-standing PISC speaker, was back to provide a grain outlook and more. Brock noted cotton, corn and oil prices as game changers affecting every industry represented in the room. Other industry updates focused on transportation and commodities.

Alison Van Eenennaam, Ph.D., of the University of California, Davis, also presented, explaining to the room why knowing your audience and tailoring your presentation is a must-do. Van Eenennaam encouraged scientists to get out of their boxes and tell a story; their story.

"Unfortunately, in the United States, scientists are really unknown. Research shows only one percent of people can name a scientist," said Van Eenennaam.

She explained the general public wants to hear a story. They want humor and sincerity. This increases the trust between the audience and presenter as well as the believability factor.

New to PISC in 2016 was a "Meet a Supplier and Greet a Buyer" networking event, which allowed suppliers to showcase their products to interested buyers. Attendees also enjoyed the annual Welcome and Grand receptions, which included the Institute for Feed Education & Research (IFEEDER), AFIA's foundation, sixth annual silent auction. IFEEDER raised more than $16,000. Auction funds go toward education and research-related projects affecting the animal food industry.

Prior to PISC, AFIA's Nutrition Committee hosted its Nutrition Symposium, March 9, which focused on the struggles between science and perception that shape consumers' trust in food today.