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Why It Matters

As the global population grows, we need to find ways to meet the demand for more food in increasingly sustainable ways. Given McDonald’s size and scale, we have an important role to play in that effort.

We are first and foremost a burger company and we take great pride in the quality, taste and feel-good moments that have been associated with our burgers for decades. As beef production makes up a significant proportion of our carbon footprint, we’ve made it a global priority to champion sustainable approaches and we are striving to make sure the beef in our burgers contributes to a sustainable food system in which people and communities, animals and the planet thrive. 

We’ve worked alongside a diverse, global network of suppliers, farmers, ranchers, NGOs and scientists for many years. Through this work, we’ve found that it’s possible to produce beef in a way that puts more into the environment than it takes out, while supporting farmer livelihoods for the long-term. Our ambition is to partner to further advance practices that protect and regenerate nature across our largest sourcing regions.

We’re one of the world’s biggest buyers of beef, so – although we don’t own farms or rear animals directly – we take seriously our responsibility to help lead and partner with the industry to drive the continued identification and implementation of sustainable practices at scale.

Approximately 2.5 million farmers contribute directly or indirectly to the beef we serve in our restaurants

Our Strategy

We approach sustainable agriculture holistically and consider our impact on the plant, the livelihoods of the people who produce our food, the communities in which they live and the well-being of the animals we rely on. We also want to create impact in areas such as maintaining biodiversity and native landscapes, capturing carbon, as well as rebuilding soil.

Working closely with farmers, ranchers and our suppliers, we support the development of industry resources to help measure, benchmark and demonstrate advancements in beef sustainability that add value to all of our businesses. We are also committed to working with experts around the world to innovate and discover new practices and to advance the science that will help solve the challenges we face. Using agricultural and scientific expertise, we’ll assess and validate the impact and benefits of these new practices and solutions. We’ll then identify and engage progressive farmers to trial the cutting-edge practices and help scale them up.

Moving forward, as we look to evolve our strategy, our ambition for the future is to partner with beef farmers and ranchers to test and scale practices that protect and regenerate nature across our largest sourcing regions. This means researching and testing how regenerative grazing and other agricultural practices can capture carbon in the soil, protect biodiversity and increase productivity on the farm.
 

Reducing emissions

In 2018, we set a science-based target to reduce GHG emissions across our supply chain – the first restaurant company to do so. As beef is one of the top three contributors to the overall footprint of our supply chain, we’re prioritizing development of our ‘beef climate roadmap’ with input from our suppliers, NGOs, academics and other experts. We are in the process of developing market- and product-specific roadmaps for meeting our SBTi targets.

Based on our experience to date, we’ve identified four key drivers that will allow us to greatly reduce emissions in our beef supply: Elevating Farm Management, Rebuilding Soils, Conserving Forests and Post-Farm Efficiency.

We’re working with our partners to develop a specific strategic plan for reducing emissions in our beef supply chain. We have also committed to publishing progress updates towards our 2030 goals annually through CDP and on our website in an effort to be transparent and accountable.

McDonald’s was the first restaurant company in the world to set a science-based target to address global climate change

Collaborating with stakeholders

By collaborating with suppliers, farmers and ranchers as well as scientists and academics, we can identify, elevate, and support practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, optimize positive impacts through agriculture, and support resilient farms and farmer livelihoods. That’s why, McDonald’s co-founded the Global Roundtable on Sustainable Beef (GRSB) in 2011, and since then we’ve been supported and participated in regional and national roundtables to engage key industry stakeholders to help develop initiatives aligned with the principles and criteria of the GRSB. We believe this will help build and accelerate the adoption of good practices throughout the beef sector.

We leverage our position on cross-sector platforms like the GRSB to drive wider collaboration and action. To support the delivery of the GRSB principles and criteria on the ground, McDonald’s has helped set up national and regional multi-stakeholder platforms such as in Canada, the US and Europe, and we participate in several others around the world. Additionally, we continue to partner with farmers, suppliers, academics and NGO experts like the World Wildlife Fund, as well as with our industry partners across the value chain to accomplish our beef sustainability commitments.

We know that we don’t yet have all the answers, but we’re committed to turning ambition into reality. We will harness the existing knowledge and progress achieved by beef farmers around the world as a platform and will spend the coming years engaging with expert groups, farmers and industry, continuing to test, scale, and develop more specific measures of success to guide us.​