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Our Journey To

Verified Sustainable Beef

McDonald's aims to begin purchasing verified sustainable beef in 2016 - and we're on a journey to get there.

 

Close to 60 years ago, McDonald's started out as a hamburger destination. Today, we offer a range of menu choices, but burgers remain some of our most iconic menu items. That's just one reason we want to do our part to improve environmental practices in the way beef is produced, support positive workplaces in the beef industry, and drive continuous improvement in animal health and welfare. Plus, we envision doing all of this while providing affordability and quality, along with economic viability for those who raise cattle and produce beef.

We cannot do this alone, so we will listen, learn, and collaborate with stakeholders from farm to the front counter to develop sustainable beef solutions.

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What We're doing

Over the years, we've worked hand-in-hand with our suppliers to get better at responsible purchasing. For example, we purchase whitefish from Marine Stewardship Council-certified fisheries, as well as varying quantities of coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms and packaging certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

We're now committing to a goal of purchasing verified sustainable beef. This sounds simple, but it's actually a big challenge because there hasn't been a universal definition of sustainable beef. That's why we joined forces with other stakeholders to build coalitions and influence industry-wide change. For instance, we collaborated with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Cargill, JBS, and others to develop the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB). We began our work in 2011, and now, this multi-stakeholder group has drafted guiding principles and best practices for sustainable beef - a breakthrough for the beef industry, and for McDonald's.

(left to right) Adrian Crean - Managing Director of McDonald's Ireland, Don Thompson - CEO and President, McDonald's Corporation, John Power - Flagship Farmer and Simon Coveney - Ireland Minister of Agriculture, Marine and Food, visit a "Flagship Farm" in Ireland.

Our aspiration: a world in which ALL the beef in our supply chain comes from verified sustainable sources.

Our Plan

McDonald's Three-Part Plan for Sustainable Beef

Our Aspiration

  • Support development of global principles and criteria in 2014
  • Develop targets for purchasing verified sustainable beef
  • Begin purchasing verified sustainable beef during 2016

Our Vision

McDonald's beef comes from farmers and processors who create economic value and nutritious protein through verifiable and diverse production systems that:

  • Optimize cattle's impact within ecosystems and nutrient cycles
  • Positively impact the lives of their employees and the communities in which they operate
  • Care for the welfare of the cattle throughout their lives

Our Approach

  • Create principles and criteria for sustainable beef production
  • Identify and test sustainable beef production practices
  • Lead with transparency and engagement
  • Work closely with our suppliers and other partners for change in the industry

Meet the People

  • Supply Chain

    Michele Banik-Rake

    Director of Sustainability - Worldwide Supply Chain McDonald's Corporation

    Promoting Sustainability in Our Supply Chain:

    Michele Banik-Rake

    Michele Banik-Rake is Director of Sustainability - Worldwide Supply Chain for McDonald's Corporation. She is responsible for integrating sustainability into our product supply chain, including our journey toward purchasing verified sustainable beef.

    "The beef industry is large and complex. Different farmers, locations, and parts of the beef supply chain do things according to a variety of local, national, and industry expectations. In the past, this has made it impossible for us to apply a single standard for sustainability to our beef purchases. Now, I'm so proud that we're working with our suppliers and others on sustainable beef principles and projects right on the ground. Although the beef industry is fragmented, when it comes to sustainability, we're all in this together."

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  • Collaboration

    David McLaughlin

    Vice President, Agriculture, World Wildlife Fund United States

    Collaborating with World Wildlife Fund:

    David McLaughlin

    Vice President, Agriculture, World Wildlife Fund United States

    McDonald's has been working with WWF since 2010 to identify best practices and guidelines for sourcing sustainable beef.

    "McDonald's has a real opportunity to be a leader by driving more sustainable beef production, which can only be done in partnership with the beef industry and its stakeholders. The process is challenging, to be sure, but can transform both McDonald's supply chain and the broader industry into a force for conserving some of the world's most ecologically important regions."

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Case Studies

Sustainable Beef Starts at the Farm

McDonald's Agricultural Assurance Program and Flagship Farms in Europe

Flagship Farms profiles some of the best farms that supply McDonald's with key ingredients and shares best practices with other farmers.

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Innovating for Sustainable Beef in the U.S.

Workshops bring together beef retailers, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and others to understand and promote sustainability.

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Principles for Sustainable Beef Farming in Europe

McDonald's plays a leading role in the SAI Platform Beef Working Group, which brings together organizations to find solutions to sustainability challenges in the beef supply chain.

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Sustainable Farming in the U.K. and Ireland

Farm Forward offers training and tools to help farmers be more successful and sustainable.

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