I recently heard Jeff Fitzpatrick-Stilwell, Head of Sustainability and Agriculture for McDonald's Canada, speak at the AgSights annual meeting.
Jeff lives in the world between farmers and consumers and he has a message that every farmer needs to hear: documented sustainable production will become the baseline for livestock production.
Most livestock sectors have implemented some sort of on-farm program, some being mandatory while others rely on market signals to drive uptake.
McDonald's has taken a long-term collaborative approach with industry as they work to meet changing consumer demands. Their work with Cargill has resulted in 7.4 million pounds of certified sustainable beef to date. McDonald's Canada alone uses 70 million pounds of ground beef per year so there is a long way to go.
You may have heard that McDonald's recently introduced the PLT (plant, lettuce and tomato) to their menu. This move will make some in the beef industry angry but get this: other burger chains that have introduced a plant-based option have seen their beef patty sales increase.
There are groups of people that avoid a restaurant that does not have a plant-based option because one in the group won’t eat meat… and so they head to a restaurant that can meet all of their desires.
Producer organizations and companies like McDonald's have put tremendous effort into programs that will position their sector to meet consumer demand. Getting on board won’t be optional forever.