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
Great tasting, quality coffee is important for many consumers. But this rising global demand, combined with more erratic weather patterns relating to a changing climate and labor shortages, is adding to the pressure on the world’s coffee-growing communities.
Over the last decade, McDonald’s has partnered with coffee roasters to help advance coffee sustainability, 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 farmers, 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 2018, 57% 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).
We have mapped all of our Scale for Good initiatives to the 17 Sustainable Development 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 invest in coffee growers and their communities over the long term. McCafé 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 6,200 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 to support economic viability, 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 support from agronomists, helping them to take better care of their land and increase overall productivity and the quality of their coffee. Additionally, there are opportunities for farmers to engage 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, the 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 a set of 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 analysis of these 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 brought the McCafé Sustainable Coffee Journey to life in 2018.
This event, held in downtown Chicago, featured a replication of a South American coffee farm and aimed to show consumers how sustainable farming practices help protect coffee from the impacts of climate change. Check out the video for more information.
A better deal for Guatemala’s growers
Together with our Franchisees, McDonald’s USA and McDonald’s 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 2018, 57% of our ground and whole bean coffee (64% of restaurant coffee globally and 3% of U.S. and Canada retail coffee) was sourced sustainably through Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, Fairtrade International and Fair Trade USA certification schemes, as well as McCafé SIP-approved programs. This includes espresso-based drinks and coffee brewed at restaurants, and all coffee retail products.
Our volume of sustainably sourced coffee increased by 5.6% from 2017 to 2018 and we are on track to achieve our global 2020 target for 100% sustainably sourced coffee. In November 2019, McDonald’s USA announced that 100% of ground and whole bean coffee for their restaurants is sustainably sourced1, representing the largest market portion of our global coffee volumes. The European market has also met our commitment to sustainably source 100% of their coffee.
By 2018, all coffee from high-deforestation risk regions2 will be sourced from Rainforest Alliance-Certified farms.
Progress in certification
As of the end of 2018, 97% of McDonald’s global coffee supply is verified as compliant with our Commitment on Forests. This is a combination of; coffee coming from high-risk locations which is Rainforest Alliance certified, as well as coffee traced back to locations with a low-risk of deforestation.
Through our risk assessment, we determined that 7% of our global coffee supply is from high-risk locations (as of 2018). Of the coffee grown in high-deforestation risk countries, 60% was Rainforest Alliance certified in 2018. While we have not met the timeline for this goal, we are working diligently with our supply chain to source the remaining 3% of our high-risk supply from Rainforest Alliance certified farms.
More information on our Commitment on Forests can be found here.
1 Except Hawaii which sources locally and will be meeting the goal in 2020.
2 High deforestation risk regions for coffee include Honduras, Indonesia, and Vietnam.