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McDonald's Restaurants to Abide by Region-Specifics Standards for Sourcing Sustainable Beef

Image credit: McDonald's

McDonald's will soon allow its restaurants in different international markets to follow region-specific guidelines for achieving its recent pledge to purchase sustainable beef.

In January, the fast food company — one of the largest buyers of beef in the US — pledged to begin purchasing verified sustainable beef in 2016, with the goal of eventually buying all of its beef from sustainable sources.

Achieving this goal will depend on sustainability innovation that is unique to local restaurant markets, according to Jeffrey Hogue, McDonald's senior director of global corporate social responsibility and sustainability recently told Bloomberg BNA. Hogue said that for McDonalds innovation often occurs at the market level rather than coming from top-down policies.


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McDonald's will ask its beef suppliers to follow principles being developed by the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), with indicators that are specific to their regions. Though beef can be raised anywhere, environmental impacts vary depending on region. The roundtable's regional indicators and metrics will help make sure that sustainability improvements are relevant to local impacts.

The company also is taking a market-driven approach for its goal of improving energy efficiency of company-owned restaurants in top markets by 20 percent by 2020. McDonald's is allowing restaurants in different markets to develop an individualized road map and plan for how to get there. For instance, some restaurants might elect to install more-efficient fryers, while others may choose to install LED lights. Efficiency also could take different forms for new restaurants compared to existing ones.

On May 16, the public comment and review period ended for GRSB’s draft principles and criteria for global sustainable beef (production, processing and retail). The document defines sustainable beef as a socially responsible, environmentally sound and economically viable product that prioritizes the planet, people, animals and progress. The comments submitted on the GRSB draft document will be taken into account, redrafted and available for another review at the end of June.


Based in San Francisco, Mike Hower is a sustainability strategist and storyteller on Edelman's Business + Social Purpose team where he works with some of the world's leading brands on corporate sustainability strategy and stakeholder engagement. With several years of… [Read more about Mike Hower]


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