We recently received an email about the passing of a retired industry member, customer and friend. I thought about how building close business and personal relationships have been such a big part of the culture of the industries we serve. The email chains and phone calls that followed the news elicited stories from the past. Reminiscing about the good times, recalling the funny stories and the group lunches or other gatherings from which closing a sale or passing on information to help someone improve their business was always accomplished. The cliché “we are not in the meat, poultry, feed or egg business; we are in the people business” seemingly applies to our industries more than others.

The International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) — sponsored by U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, American Feed Industry Association and North American Meat Institute — annually hosts the event in January that brings industry people to Atlanta. “IPPE connects the global animal food and protein communities with innovative technology, learning experiences and networking to improve their businesses” is the mission of IPPE. It is people — connecting communities around the globe within our industries that offers a showcase of products, services, technology, networking and educational opportunities — that have held this successful event together for many decades. We believe face-to-face interactions between people with common interests is important for the future success of our industries.

We are now in the midst of the 
COVID-19 global pandemic which has affected our business in many ways. We are faced with a different kind of challenge in which we must work together to continue to provide a safe and affordable protein product to our customers. Issues affecting worker safety, process efficiencies, regulations and more will be addressed by processors, suppliers, service providers and other industry stakeholders. In other words, it will be people working together to provide solutions.

We realize the COVID-19 pandemic has caused concern for events attracting large numbers of people for some period until conditions improve. Fortunately, IPPE 2020 was held before the global emergency was announced and before the impact was known. Even then, IPPE initiated extra precautions to ensure the safety of all participants. Sanitation of the facility’s common area was increased, hand sanitation stations were added in key areas and footbaths were provided to accommodate entrances to the show floor. Public-health and government organizations provided frequent communication and guidance for providing a safe event. Post-event surveys and feedback showed positive overall satisfaction. Our organizations are preparing for another successful IPPE scheduled for Jan. 26-28, 2021, and we will continue to monitor the situation and make any necessary changes to ensure a safe and successful event for everyone.

On behalf of the three sponsor associations, we appreciate the support of our members, exhibitors and guests who have made IPPE the largest annual event for the poultry, egg, meat and feed industries. Again, people make the difference and face-to-face events are important for our people. NP