As one of the world’s largest purchasers of beef, McDonald’s has identified beef sustainability as a key business priority and is committed to being more progressive in partnering with industry to advance sustainable practices to better the lives of cattle, ranchers and consumers. The Company has committed to begin purchasing a portion of its beef from verified sustainable sources in 2016 as part of its broader aspirational goal to source all of its food and packaging sustainably.
To date, nearly 100 Alberta ranchers have expressed interest in participating in the pilot with 19 having completed verification and an additional seven scheduling their verification. Phase two will begin in the Fall and will generate more verifications. The McDonald’s-sponsored pilot will then transition to the CRSB, where the lessons learned will inform its work as it moves towards implementing a program for sustainable beef verification across Canada.
Progress towards this commitment is being realized through a pilot project in Canada aimed at establishing an independent verification process in partnership with multiple stakeholders, using the global principles and criteria ratified by the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB).
On Tuesday, executives from McDonald’s and Cargill, along with members from the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) toured two Alberta ranches that have completed the third-party process to verify sustainable beef production under the pilot project.
McDonald’s Corporate, World Wildlife Fund in the United States (WWF-US) and Cargill are founding members of the GRSB established in 2012.
In 2014, the CRSB was formed creating a truly multi-stakeholder organization of experts representing every aspect of beef production, including McDonald’s Canada, Cargill, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canada Beef, Loblaw Inc., government and producer groups.
McDonald’s Canada sources 100% Canadian beef for its hamburger patties from ranches, primarily from Alberta and Saskatchewan, making Canada a natural fit for the globally-supported pilot. In phase one of the Canadian pilot, regionally specific indicators were developed in line with the GRSB’s principles and criteria in consultation with a cross-industry advisory board and a mechanism for third-party verification was agreed.
For example, Natural Resources: the various ways ranchers manage and maintain the iconic prairie grasslands that are an integral ecosystem for biodiversity in Canada is an indicator of sustainable beef production.
Other indicators span the areas of animal health and welfare, food, community and people, and efficiency and innovation.
The number of ranchers who completed the verification process in phase one exceeded expectations and more ranchers will participate in phase two.
McDonald’s Corporation: Journey to Verified Sustainable Beef
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Canadian Cattlemen’s Association
World Wildlife Fund
“We’re committed to being more progressive around our social purpose and what matters most to consumers. We’ve made great strides, charting a new course for the entire global beef industry and with the help of our partners, we’re changing the way we source and serve food in our restaurants around the world.”
- Steve Easterbrook, President and CEO, McDonald’s Corporation
“There are certification and measurement programs for commodities like coffee, fish and palm oil, but until now, there has been no global standard for beef. There’s no better place in the world than Canada to embark on the next phase in setting that standard. We are huge supporters of the industry. We know, because we use 100% Canadian beef in our hamburger patties. As such, we are very proud to be championing this initiative in partnership with the Canadian beef industry.”
- John E. Betts, President and CEO, McDonald’s Canada
“Sustainability means different things to different people but at its core it’s about being great stewards of the land and animals for future generations. Our ability to define it through the work of the CRSB means defining the future of the Canadian beef industry.”
- Cherie Copithorne-Barnes, Rancher and Chair of the CRSB
About McDonald’s Canada
McDonald’s is the leading foodservice company in the world. McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Limited and its Canadian franchisees own and operate more than 1,400 restaurants with more than 85,000 employees from coast-to-coast. Approximately 80 per cent of McDonald’s Canadian restaurants are locally owned and operated by independent entrepreneurs. For more information about McDonald’s Canada, visit www.mcdonalds.ca or follow us on Twitter (@McD_Canada), Facebook (Facebook.com/McDonaldscanada) and Instagram (Instagram.com/mcdonaldscanada) for updates on our business, promotions and menu items.
About McDonald’s Corporation
McDonald's is the world's leading global foodservice retailer with over 36,000 locations serving approximately 69 million customers in over 100 countries each day. More than 80% of McDonald's restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local business men and women.
About the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Established in 2014, the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) is a multi-stakeholder initiative which includes three technical working groups: the CRSB Development Taskforce, the Sustainability Assessment Working Group and the Communication Working Group.
Fact Sheet; McDonald's Canada
What does the pilot mean for producers who participate?
McDonald’s Corporation has made a commitment to begin purchasing a portion of its beef supply from verified sustainable sources in 2016.
McDonald’s Corporation is funding a pilot project in Canada to support fulfilling its commitment through leadership and collaboration with multiple stakeholders.
The pilot will serve as a learning opportunity to understand how to measure, verify, and communicate the sustainability of beef production to consumers.
The pilot has developed a set of regionally specific indicators, in consultation with a cross-industry advisory group, that are aligned to the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef’s (GRSB) principles and criteria along with a mechanism for third-party verification.
Verification - not certification - allows producers to demonstrate, in their own way, how they meet the sustainability indicators we are piloting/testing.
By completing the verification process, producers will be able to tell their story in a credible way while also verifying the strengths and areas for improvement in their operations.
McDonald’s pays for a confidential, professional verification of their operation.
Opportunity to share insights and best practices with peers and recognize performance.
Opportunity to identify areas of opportunity for operational improvement.
Signal the strength of the Canadian beef industry to domestic and international markets.
How will the pilot set the Canadian beef industry up for success?
Developing regionally specific indicators under the GRSB principles and criteria framework will help align and inform the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.
Developing the mechanisms for independent third-party verification of performance against the indicators and chain of custody management for information sharing.
Enabling Canada to be the first jurisdiction in the world to claim a portion of verified sustainable beef from birth to burger.
Potentially opening new, and increasing existing, export markets for Canadian beef.
Driving increased collaboration along the beef value chain.