We believe coffee should not only taste great, but be sustainably sourced. That’s why we take steps to make sure McCafé supports farmers, their communities and their land. Sustainable sourcing is a key part of our strategy.
Why it matters
More and more of us are getting a taste for good coffee. But this rising global demand, combined with more erratic weather patterns relating to a changing climate, labor shortages and the remote nature of coffee growing, is adding to the pressure on the world’s coffee-growing communities.
McDonald’s has partnered with coffee roasters to help advance coffee sustainability over the last decade and we remain committed to further progress, since a continued supply of quality coffee beans is critical for our business and for our customers. From iced coffees and mochas to lattes and cappuccinos, we want all our customers to be able to enjoy great-tasting coffee, now and long into the future.
We’re part of the global movement to ensure coffee is grown and traded in ways that support communities and their land. We believe that by sustainably sourcing coffee we support the growth of a market that rewards farmers for adopting sound environmental and social practices. To this end, we are committed to sustainably sourcing 100% of our coffee by 2020.
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Sourcing coffee certified to international sustainability standards such as Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, and Fair Trade is key to our strategy. In parallel with our certification work, we’ve also launched the McCafé Sustainability Improvement Platform (SIP) in partnership with Conservation International. These two approaches are complementary efforts, and we will continue to support both certification and direct collaboration with farmers as methods to achieve positive impacts.
In 2017, 54% of our coffee was sourced sustainably through Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, Fair Trade International and Fair Trade USA certifications, as well as McCafé SIP-approved programs.
Our work on sustainable coffee supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, specifically:
- Goal 2 – Zero hunger (specifically targets 2.3 and 2.4).
- Goal 17 – Partnerships for the goals (specifically target 17.16).
As well as these, we’ve mapped our Scale for Good initiatives to all 17 goals.
What is McCafé SIP?
The McCafé Sustainability Improvement Platform (SIP) was launched in partnership with Conservation International in 2016, as a framework to engage and guide our coffee supply chain in sustainable sourcing, as well as investing in coffee growers and their communities over the long term. McCafé SIP is not intended to replace certification systems and is not itself a certification system, but a means to verify positive impact at the farm level through continuous improvement tracking and third-party minimum requirements verification systems. It also provides roasters, who supply our coffee, with guidance across four key elements they must achieve in order to have a SIP-approved program.
Transparency – understanding who grows our coffee and identifying all farms and farmers participating in a SIP-approved program.
Producer collaboration – identifying needs specific to the farming community and collaborating with them and local partners to provide relevant training and tools.
Measured performance – tracking progress against globally recognized recognized minimum requirements and continuous improvement indicators for sustainable coffee production.
Assurance – verifying data through third-party audits.
McCafé SIP is currently active in five countries, reaching more than 6,400 farms as of 2018. Roasters can choose to develop programs, in collaboration with the communities they source from, that meet the McCafé SIP framework and therefore contribute to our sustainable coffee sourcing goal. The Company and its Franchisees partner with roasters to invest in programs that provide, for example, direct premiums to farmers, as well as farmer training, technical assistance, tools and resources, and measurement and evaluation.
What results are we seeing?
Through McCafé SIP, we have better information about the farmers growing our coffee, which is verified by third-parties. We’re also enabling coffee roasters to leverage their expertise and relationships at origin to innovate and advance sustainable farming practices. Through roaster-led programs, farmers can access training and agronomists, helping them to take better care of their land and increase their overall productivity and the quality of their coffee, as well as engaging in activities focused on improving their welfare. For example, over 500 coffee farms in Quindio, Colombia nearly doubled their initial yield in 2017, due in part to the use of field farmer schools and frequent technical assistance. A further 1,725 farms in Antioquia and Norte del Valle, Colombia received support, such as installing vegetable gardens to grow food for coffee farming families, the distribution of safety equipment and the delivery of 300,000 disease resistant coffee plantlets.
In the Chiapas region of Mexico, more than 500 farms participated in the program in 2017 and over 589,000 coffee trees were delivered to farmers as part of a roaster-led renovation program. The farmers were also offered support from six agronomists working in the field. In Peru, over 1,110 farmers have received training on fertilizing methods to increase yields, water treatment systems to protect their land and their communities and financial record keeping to ensure their long-term financial stability. In the Cerrado biome of Minas Gerais in Brazil, coffee farmers participating in a SIP training program reported an 80% reduction in the use of agrochemicals, while productivity rose by 10%.
“McDonald’s is becoming a global leader in serving sustainable coffee that is good for farmers, good for nature and good for its customers. The commitment of an industry giant like McDonald’s marks an important step in our work to make coffee the world’s first fully sustainable agricultural product.”
Peter Seligmann, Founder and Chairman of Conservation International
Advancing coffee sustainability through McCafé SIP
We have created an Advisory Council to provide input on the strategic direction of McCafé SIP. The Advisory Council members include Conservation International, Rainforest Alliance, Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA), Sustainable Food Lab, Fair Trade USA and Solidaridad. In partnership with Conservation International and with input from the Advisory Council, we developed and introduced new minimum requirements that all farms must meet and that will be assessed through third-party audits. These requirements are focused on social and environmental impacts such as human rights, health and safety and deforestation.
In partnership with COSA, we have also expanded performance metrics, which measure continuous improvement towards social, environmental and economic standards annually. Through insights gained through the analysis of the metrics, our roasters can better target investments in programs that support income diversification or food security and help to build the resilience of these communities.
Bringing coffee farming to consumers
To communicate our progress, and help consumers better understand what sustainability truly means and why it’s important, the Company recently created the McCafé Sustainable Coffee Journey – a one-day event featuring a replication of a South American coffee farm in downtown Chicago aiming to show consumers how sustainable farming practices help protect coffee from the impacts of climate change. Check out the video below for more information.
A better deal for Guatemala’s growers
Together with our Franchisees, McDonald’s U.S. and Canada invested more than $6 million to support coffee growers in Guatemala between 2012 and 2016. Partnering with TechnoServe, an international nonprofit that develops business solutions to poverty, we trained over 15,000 farmers in sustainable coffee-growing practices. Farmers completing the training in 2016 reported coffee bean yields on average 45% higher than those of neighboring farmers, despite difficult weather conditions and widespread coffee rust disease.
We also worked with the Sustainable Commodities Assistance Network (SCAN) to establish a formal training curriculum, available globally on both the SCAN and UN websites.
“The work McDonald’s is supporting with smallholder coffee farmers in Central America has been best-in-class, and McDonald’s dedication to sustainability has made a positive, lasting difference on the lives of thousands of farmers.”
William Warshauer, President and CEO of TechnoServe
The Sustainable Coffee Challenge
We’ve been working with Conservation International for 25 years to help advance global agricultural sustainability. Our latest collaboration is the Sustainable Coffee Challenge (SCC), which aims to make coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural product. As an Advisory Council member of the SCC, we are uniting with other key industry players – retailers, roasters, industry associations and non-governmental organizations – to help make the changes needed to transform the industry. This means:
- Supporting the prosperity and well-being of coffee-farming communities.
- Protecting the environment – particularly forest, water and soil conservation.
- Sustaining the supply of quality coffee to meet future demand.
Compost from coffee grounds
McDonald’s uses tons of coffee grounds and espresso beans every year to make the coffee our customers love. Rather than sending these heavy grounds to the landfill, coffee grounds can be used in arboretums, school gardens and backyards to improve garden soil! This is an example of how we’re gradually eliminating waste in our restaurants.
Our goals and progress
100% of coffee to be sustainably sourced by 2020.
In 2017, 54% of our coffee (64% of restaurant coffee globally and 11% of U.S. and Canada retail coffee) was sourced sustainably through Rainforest Alliance UTZ, Fair Trade International and Fair Trade USA certification, as well as McCafé SIP-approved programs.
Further context: Our total global volumes of sustainably sourced coffee increased during this time by 13%, but the overall global percentage of sustainably sourced coffee decreased by 2% between 2016 and 2017, from 56% to 54%. This is because our global coffee volumes as a whole increased by 16% during this period. Even with these volume increases, we are still on track to achieve our 2020 target for 100% sustainably sourced coffee.
By 2018, all coffee from high-deforestation risk regions will be sourced from Rainforest Alliance-Certified farms.
Progress in certification
In 2017, 47% of coffee grown in high-deforestation risk countries was Rainforest Alliance certified, and we are on target to achieve this goal by 2018. Coffee from high-deforestation risk countries made up <6% of our global supply in 2017.