McDonald's concludes sustainable beef pilot project

Company aims to expand sustainability efforts throughout its global network.

McDonald’s recently announced that it successfully achieved a commitment it made in 2014 to source a portion of its beef from verified sustainable sources by 2016, marking a major milestone in its collaborative partnership with the Canadian beef industry to advance more sustainable beef practices and support the global company’s broader aspirational goal to source all of its food and packaging sustainably.

McDonald’s said it chose to collaborate with Canadian beef producers for the Verified Sustainable Beef Pilot after Canada’s beef industry leadership expressed not just willingness but also a desire to work with the fast-food company on its beef sustainability initiative. Additionally, Canada was already home to a significant number of programs and tools critical for the success of the pilot project, and the company had already developed strong relationships across the Canadian beef community by sourcing 100% Canadian beef for the hamburgers supplying all of the Canadian restaurants.

As one of the country’s largest purchasers of Canadian beef, McDonald’s Canada, through the pilot, tracked the journey of nearly 9,000 head of Canadian cattle, or the equivalent of 2.4 million patties. The cattle spent their entire lives — from "birth to burger" — raised on or handled by verified sustainable operations.

Over the duration of the project, 121 cow/calf operations, 34 backgrounders, 24 feedlots, two packers and one patty plant achieved verified status.

John Betts, president and chief executive officer of McDonald’s Canada, said his company remains committed to serving customers only 100% Canadian beef. “The pilot has demonstrated the remarkable progress and success that can come when industry and ranchers work together towards a more sustainable future.”

The pilot project became the first beef sustainability initiative in the world to bring the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef principles and criteria to life; the principles outlined include environmental responsibility, animal health, food safety, worker safety, community responsibility and innovation.

“As a progressive burger company, we are changing the way we source and serve food in our restaurants,” said Steve Easterbrook, president and CEO of McDonald’s Corp. “We have an important role in helping build a more sustainable food system globally through initiatives such as the sustainable beef pilot in Canada, and we’re committed to continuing this important work around the world.”

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