As part of McDonald’s 2020 Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability Framework, the company has commited to begin purchasing a portion of verified sustainable beef in 2016. Using principles and criteria approved by the Global and Canadian Roundtables for Sustainable Beef, the company is currently recruiting for the pilot project.
“When you look at consumer data, there’s two things that consumers feel that they have the power to change to make a difference for the environment. The first thing is recycle,” Jeffrey Fitzpatrick-Stilwell, senior manager of sustainability at McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada told the Alberta Beef Industry Conference delegates. “The second thing is they think they can make purchase decisions for themselves and their families [that can] affect change.”
That’s why this sustainability initiative is so important, says Fitzpatrick-Stilwell.
Jeffrey Fitzpatrick-Stilwell on the reasons McDonald’s is interested in defining and sourcing sustainable beef, what the pilot project entails and who can participate. This interview was filmed at the Alberta Beef Industry Conference on February 20, 2015.
McDonald’s has a presence in over one hundred countries, but it chose Canada for the pilot project for a variety of reasons. One of the most influential was the industry-supported tools already developed, like the Verified Beef Production program, Canadian Roundtable and the Beef InfoXchange System.
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“We believe that the Canadian beef industry is largely sustainable,” Fitzpatrick-Stilwell explained, “but customers don’t trust us to tell them that’s happening. So we needed some way to verify that the good work is already happening….”
With the help of industry stakeholders, the pilot project will identify opportunities for further development of indicators specific to Canadian agriculture. This outcome will then be presented to the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. McDonald’s hopes this will set the industry up for success in reaching a sustainably certified product. It will also pave the way for their lofty 2016 goal.
McDonald’s is looking for a diverse group of producers whose beef ends up in either of the JBS facility in Brooks or High River’s Cargill plant. Roughly two dozen producers had expressed interest in the pilot project before the conference.
The verification pilot process is free, and will be third-party administered by Where Food Comes From, Inc.
For more information on how (or why) to participate, producers can contact Jeffrey Fitzpatrick-Stilwell ([email protected]).
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