Palm Oil

Our goal is for 100% of the palm oil used in our restaurants and as ingredients in our products to support the production of sustainable palm oil by 2020. It’s a complex issue and we rely on platforms like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil to help increase the scale of our efforts.

Why it matters

Palm oil is the world’s most versatile and widely used oilseed. We use it as frying oil in some countries, while direct suppliers use it to par-fry some chicken and potato products. It can also be found in baked goods, sauces and confectionary items.

This ingredient is the basis of livelihoods of millions of farmers and communities. It requires less land than other major oil-producing crops due to its substantially higher oil yield. However, with demand growing, natural forests have been replaced by palm oil plantations, leading to reduced biodiversity, increased carbon dioxide emissions and even the displacement of communities. We know that our brand carries a great deal of visibility and influence, which is why palm oil has been a key focus since 2011 when we joined the global Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

On this page:

Our approach | Our actions | Our goals and progress

Our approach

We take the issue of deforestation very seriously, and are dedicated to eliminating it from our supply chain, as set out in our Commitment on Forests. We are committed to sourcing RSPO certified palm oil. We do this alongside stakeholders from throughout the palm oil supply chain, including growers, traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, non-governmental organizations, banks and investors.

We also have expectations of our centrally managed suppliers of restaurant and par-fry oil to address deforestation and human rights concerns. We’ve listened to expert stakeholders who have told us our palm oil goals and strategy could be strengthened, and we agree. We therefore updated our Global Sustainable Palm Oil Policy in 2016 to make it more rigorous (see below), and continue to take a holistic approach that will serve both ourselves and the wider industry.

Our work on palm oil sustainability supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, specifically:

As well as these, we’ve mapped our Scale for Good initiatives to all 17 goals.


Our actions

Supporting sustainable production

In 2017, 100% of palm oil used globally for restaurant cooking or by our suppliers to par-fry chicken, potato and globally managed bakery and sauce products was RSPO-certified sustainable or covered by RSPO credits, the minimum level of verification currently required according to our Global Sustainable Palm Oil Policy.1 In 2017, we reached an important milestone when the U.S. – our largest market for palm oil – moved to 100% RSPO Mass Balance certified palm oil for all national products. This reflects our commitment to physical supply chains of certified sustainable palm oil.

Contributing to industry transformation

In 2016, we launched our Global Sustainable Palm Oil Policy, and held webinars and training sessions with all suppliers, as well as our market and product category teams that use palm oil around the world. We also selected suppliers that were best positioned to meet our future needs, in part based on their ability to show us that they can meet our sustainability expectations. In doing so, sustainability became even more integral to the way we do business.

Transparency on progress

We communicate annually through the RSPO Annual Communication of Progress and our website. We also continuously update our Sustainable Sourcing Guide, which outlines our priorities and expectations for suppliers, including for palm oil. To help inform our reporting methodology, we use the Reporting Guidance for Responsible Palm, developed by a wide range of organizations and published in 2017. It aims to provide common reporting guidance for companies throughout the supply chain, thereby increasing understanding, transparency and accountability for responsible palm oil production.

Our goals and progress


By 2020, 100% of the palm oil used in McDonald’s restaurants worldwide and as ingredients in McDonald’s products will support sustainable production.



In 2017, 100% of palm oil used globally for restaurant cooking or by our suppliers to par-fry chicken, potato and globally managed bakery and sauce products, was certified as supporting sustainable production. Our volumes of mass balance certified oils increased from 11.6% in 2016 to 36% in 2017.

By Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) chain of custody system:

  • 63% verified using book and claim certificates (the minimum level of verification currently required according to our palm oil policy).
  • 36% Mass Balance
  • 1% Segregated
  • .2%  Identify Preserved


All centrally managed suppliers of restaurant and par-fry oil must:

  • Be active members of the RSPO and report through the RSPO Annual Communications of Progress.
  • Have a public commitment to eliminate deforestation and supporting strategy.
  • Have a strategy for traceability to the mill and plantation level.
  • Be committed not to source from peatlands, high conservation value land and high carbon stock forests.
  • Be committed to uphold human rights at the plantation level and Free and Prior Informed Consent.
  • Have a third-party verification process.
  • Have a strategy to address any open grievances.



In 2016, all direct suppliers of restaurant and par-fry oils submitted documentation outlining that they have policies and programs in place to fulfill the requirements outlined in our Global Sustainable Palm Oil Policy.


1. This figure is different from the number that we disclosed through our RSPO annual communication of progress for Palm Oil. This is due to follow-up that occurred with suppliers after the ACOP was submitted.  

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