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Our Journey To

Verified Sustainable Beef

McDonald's aims to purchase a portion of our beef from verified sustainable sources beginning 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

We're committed to begin purchasing a portion of our beef from verified sustainable sources starting in 2016. 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 in 2014, this multi-stakeholder group published guiding principles and best practices for sustainable beef a-breakthrough for the beef industry, and for McDonald's.

But beef production varies widely around the world and the industry needs local solutions. So we're supporting pilot programs that draw from these global principles to develop approaches for sustainable beef right at the farm level.

McDonald's President and CEO Steve Easterbook meets with Carter Roberts, President and CEO of WWF-US, and Graeme Finn, an Alberta, Canada rancher who has participated in a McDonald's-sponsored sustainable beef pilot project.

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 (goal achieved)
  • 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

Working Togther

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 - Ranchers

    Bob Lowe

    Rancher, Nanton, Alberta, Canada

    Collaborating with Ranchers:

    Bob Lowe

    Rancher, Nanton, Alberta, Canada

    Bob raises about 800 head of cattle each year and has been ranching the same land for 50 years. Bob also serves as vice-chair of the Alberta Beef Producers Board of Directors.

    "I believe that sustainability is going to become one of the best things that’s ever come to the Canadian cattle industry. What makes [the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef program] such a credible project to me…is the people sitting at the table that developed the indicators."

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  • Collaboration - Environmentalists

    Nancy Labbe

    Senior Program Officer, Sustainable Food, World Wildlife Fund

    Collaborating with World Wildlife Fund:

    Nancy Labbe

    Senior Program Officer, Sustainable Food, World Wildlife Fund

    At WWF, Nancy leads direct engagement with the ranching community in North America, with a special focus on the Northern Great Plains region, where sustainable beef production goes hand-in-hand with conserving the iconic grassland ecosystem on which it relies.

    "For us, producing more sustainable beef is really about using less resources. This project is taking those big, broad, global indicators and putting them on the ground so we can confidently say that this is a verified sustainable product."

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Case Studies

Sustainable Beef Starts at the Farm

Building a Better Burger
- Sustainable Beef in Canada

McDonald's has reached a major milestone in our journey to sustainable beef.

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Our Journey Continues Around the World

Important work toward sustainable beef is taking place in other parts of the world, too. In Europe, for example, McDonald's chairs the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform's beef working group. The group is scheduled to publish a Europe-tailored Farm Sustainability Assessment in September 2015. Efforts are also underway in Brazil to identify regions for testing sustainable beef principles. In New Zealand, collaborations are being formed to demonstrate sustainable beef production at the farm level. And in March 2015, McDonald's USA became a founding member of the United States Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.

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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