The combined PIX/AMC (Poultry Information Exchange/Australian Milling Conference) held at the Gold Coast Convention & Conference Centre, Queensland Australia from May 20 to 24, resulted in attendance figures and exhibitor participation that would have pleased the organisers. This year was a landmark for PIX in particular as it was the 25th anniversary of the event.
By Peter Bedwell*
The figures do the talking: there were 1,116 registrations on Monday, May 21 of which 725 were PIX attendees and 385 AMC participants, and similar figures were achieved on the following and final day of the PIX/AMC event. There were numerous company and industry based seminars and workshops that occurred both during and following the conference.
Pfizer held its industry workshop and Lohmann Layers Australia launched its new enterprise. BEC Feed Solutions held an industry breakfast seminar and Aviagen, Inghams, Safefood Qld, Nutriment, and FC Stone held meetings for customers and associates.
OEC ran its Rotem Training and Information Course on May 18 in Brisbane and May 22 at the PIX event with George Strohschein, Rotem USA conducting the proceedings. The ever popular Tunnel Ventilation Workshop conducted by Mike Czarick and Brian Fairchild from the University of Georgia USA, attracted 140 delegates and the Australasian Veterinary Poultry Association (AVPA) seminar held on May 23 had 110 attendees. Santrev, a leading builder of sheds in Australia and overseas held a one day seminar and farm visit for growers on May 24.
The social events are always an important element at PIX and they included the PIX Welcome Dinner, AMC Welcome Dinner, the Gala Masquerade Dinner and the PIX Industry Breakfast that featured international egg industry celebrity, Howard Helmer, demonstrating his frenetic omelette production techniques. Helmer, a tireless promoter of egg consumption, holds a Guinness World Record for omelette cooking.
Nowhere was the increase in scale of the PIX/AMC event more apparent than in the exhibition hall occupied by 122 companies and industry related organisations which took 217 trade display booths. Equally noticeable was the increased international nature of this year’s PIX, a trend that gathered momentum with the 2008 combined PIX/WPSA event held in Brisbane. There were 132 delegates from Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Fiji, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United States.
In his opening address, PIX president Rod Jenner explained the origins of the event. “The first PIX was held in 1969 in Caloundra, Queensland after just five pioneers of the Queensland Poultry Industry organised a conference for local producers, to keep them up to date with advances in fledgling egg and chicken meat industries,” he said. “Through their initiative and passion they set the stage for the poultry industry to grow to the status that it holds today, as the most progressive and technologically advanced livestock industry in Australia.“PIX 2012 carries on the ideals of that first meeting – to provide a forum for the exchange of information. It is the 25th time PIX has been held and the event now enjoys the reputation of being the premier Australian industry event on the poultry industry calendar. Each year PIX has grown in size, concept and stature and covers every segment of the industry.”2012 saw PIX being joined by the Australasian Milling Conference (AMC), a joint initiative of the Stock Feed Manufacturers Council of Australia (SFMCA), and the Australian Technical Millers Association (ATMA). “This brings a whole new facet of feed and feed milling to the event,” Jenner concluded.
The conference and workshop sessions covered all aspects of the poultry industry including chicken meat and egg production in both conventional and free range systems and food safety issues were examined in some depth and detail.
It was in the plenary sessions of the PIX conference that broad and critical industry issues were addressed. John Kerin AM, chairman of the (Australian) Poultry CRC in his paper, ‘Setting the Scene’ warned of the potential problems of food production in the 21stCentury. “As the world population rises and living standards improve, the demand for animal protein will rise,” he said. “It is not expected that the world’s leaders will adopt policies that may mediate Global Warming cum Climate Change.
“While vested interests have convinced many people to believe the science can be ignored or they are ignorant of it, producing industries need to be cognisant of it and the implications for a resource constrained planet. In this regard, of the land based protein food sources, poultry meat and eggs perform far better than does the production of beef, sheep meat and pork.“Poultry meat uses less than half the primary energy usage of beef, the richest of the rich man’s food. Eggs, also increasingly a cheap source of protein, use almost exactly half the amount of energy to produce as beef. The cost of energy, broadly defined, is not going to diminish but the poultry industries are better placed to deal with it than other industries,” he said.
Julian Cribb is a well known Australian scientific journalist and author. His recently published title The Coming Famine has attracted attention well beyond the Oceania region and his opening statement was that “as ocean fish catches wane, the world is readying for an aquaculture boom that could make this by far the biggest livestock sector by 2050. World demand for meat and fish combined adds up to a total new requirement of between two and three billion tonnes of stockfeed,” he said. “That’s equal to the current grain crop of three North Americas.”A major growth area will be algae farming for fuel, stockfeed, food, fertiliser, chemicals and plastics. “In an age where the cost of grain, land and feed is likely to increase sharply, reflecting growing global scarcity, poultry production has a major advantage. It is among the most efficient industries in the world at converting feed into food. Given the very high level of knowledge and skill required for successful poultry farming nowadays, I see the poultry sector as the frontrunner in global knowledge trade. I envision a time when Australian poultry farmers may earn as much from knowledge exports as they do from meat or eggs,” he predicted.
While the opening plenary conference session dealt with broad industry and global issues the final speaker in the closing plenary session, Jackie Healing, head of quality, policy and governance at Coles supermarkets, in her paper revealed answers to the key question ‘What do our customers want?’
In Australia, a country with a population of 22.3 million, more than 75% of the total national retail spent is shared by just two giant supermarket chains, and Coles with an annual turnover in excess of A$30 billion is one of them. Coles has 740 stores, 40,000 individual lines on sale and more than 100,000 employees. It is also, according to Healing, the ‘world’s fastest growing retailer’. “Poultry represents a major player in our fresh food strategy,” Healing said.
Healing, who has experience in the highly competitive UK food retail industry, believes that some aspects of fresh food sales including poultry are being conducted better and are more responsive to consumer demand overseas. “Egg labelling with highly detailed information is publicly available: shelf life and eggs to supermarket concerns are addressed,” she said. “RSPCA Freedom Foods for both free range and barn laid production systems have a significant market share. Links to the farm via webcams are available to UK consumers using QR codes and smartphones in store,” she concluded.
The PIX/AMC 2012 conference and trade exhibition was a regional rather than a local industry event. It demonstrated that by changing the format, the event has the potential to move even further into a truly international gathering. According to PIX 2012 president Rod Jenner the 2014 event, to be held at the same venue, is already being planned and the dates are May 25 to 27, 2014.
*Peter Bedwell is editor of Poultry Digest, the magazine for the Australian and New Zealand poultry sector.