Egg Industry Center

In Memoriam: Blair Van Zetten

January 21, 2021

Van Zetten receiving Urner Barry award in 2016

AMES, Iowa -- Blair Van Zetten, president of Oskaloosa Food Products Corporation and a founding board member of the Egg Industry Center died January 18, 2021 in Arizona.

Van Zetten took control of Oskaloosa Food Products Corporation in 1980 upon his father’s passing. His father started the company in 1938. Oskaloosa Foods, located in Oskaloosa, Iowa, is an industry leader in dried, liquid and frozen egg products and serves domestic and international markets.

During his career Van Zetten served on many industry-related boards. He was a past-chair of the American Egg Board (AEB), the United Egg Association, the Egg Industry Center (EIC) and the Iowa Egg Council. At the time of his passing he was a member of the United Egg Producer Board, treasurer of the board for the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, treasurer of the board for the Iowa Egg Council, AEB Board member and market development committee chair, and vice chair of the EIC Board.

“Our hearts ache with the entire industry at the loss of such a proponent for what the egg could bring to people around the world,” said Richard Gates, director of EIC. “We are grateful for the legacy that Blair left; his vision and belief that applied research on the industry’s challenging issues was the best way forward for the entire industry.”

Van Zetten was a founding board member of EIC and one of its original visionaries who worked to make the organization a reality for the egg industry. He served as EIC’s first chair from the time of the center’s creation in 2008 until 2011. During his time on the EIC Board he was actively engaged in determining research funding initiatives and educational speakers for the industry to learn from, as well as working to grow the endowment that helps the center fund research throughout North America.

Van Zetten had earned the title of Oskaloosa Citizen of The Year and was named Urner Barry's Egg Person of the Year in 2016. He was inducted to the Iowa Poultry Association Hall of Fame in 2019. In 2020, Van Zetten was given the highest honor by the Iowa State University Alumni Association for non-graduates of Iowa State University – the Honorary Alumni Award. This award is given to those who have made significant contributions to Iowa State's welfare, reputation, prestige and pursuit of excellence.

“I only had the privilege of knowing Blair two short years, but he already had a life-long impact on me, on what I understand about the agriculture and food industries, about how to represent with passion the sectors and things we care about, about how to listen to others, and how to engage,” said College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Endowed Dean’s Chair Daniel J. Robison.  “We are all better people having known him.” 

Van Zetten served many organizations outside the egg industry. He was a past president for the Oskaloosa Chamber of Commerce, the Oskaloosa Community Development Board and the Forest Cemetery Board. He was a past chair of the TruBank Board of Directors and served as an elder in the First Presbyterian Church. Van Zetten and his wife, Wendy, of 45 years have three sons, Jason, Brandon and Travis.

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