McDonald’s resuming all-Canadian beef supply

'Supply adjustment' ends next month, company says

Updated, Aug. 18 — McDonald’s Canada’s pandemic-related “supply adjustment,” in which the burger chain cut its Canadian beef purchases to below 100 per cent, is set to end next month.

The Canadian arm of the U.S. fast food giant announced Thursday it will resume its pre-pandemic policy of sourcing 100 per cent Canadian beef, starting in September.

In late April — as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the workforces at Western Canada’s major federally inspected beef packing plants — McDonald’s Canada announced it would enlist supplies from other countries “until Canada’s beef supply stabilizes.”

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During the “adjustment,” the company said Thursday, it was still able to source Canadian beef for over 80 per cent of its supply, but supplemented those purchases with beef from packers in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Ireland.

The burger chain’s Canadian arm, which today includes about 1,400 stores across the country, first committed in 2003 to a 100 per cent Canadian beef supply, which it said Thursday is sourced from producers “primarily in Alberta and Saskatchewan.”

McDonald’s in late April had cited the temporary closure of Cargill’s beef packing plant at High River, Alta. as a reason for the supply adjustment, and said at the time it would work with Cargill and other global suppliers to meet demand.

The High River plant was offline for two weeks following a significant outbreak of COVID-19, which ultimately led to infections among about half of the plant’s 2,000-odd employees, including two workers who died of the illness.

Sustainability shift

Also by next month, McDonald’s said Thursday, the Canadian chain expects to make an additional shift in its beef supply for its Quarter Pounder burgers, and ensure at least 30 per cent comes from farms and ranches certified by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB).

“The stabilized supply of Canadian beef is important in allowing us to continue to progress our sustainability efforts,” Jeffrey Fitzpatrick-Stilwell, sustainability and agriculture lead for McDonald’s Canada, said Thursday in the company’s release.

The new Quarter Pounder beef policy, he said, “is another meaningful step forward on our journey to delivering socially responsible, economically viable and environmentally sound food to our guests.”

McDonald’s Canada was a founding member of the CRSB when that organization was set up in 2014. In 2018, the chain became the first to use the CRSB certification mark, on the packaging for its Angus burger line.

The chain in late April also said it would temporarily remove Angus burgers from its Canadian offerings, as part of what it described earlier that month as a “simplification of our menu” to improve takeout traffic during the pandemic.

The company didn’t say Thursday when the Angus burger line would return. A company representative said later by email it’s “frequently evaluating our limited menu in response to the needs of our guests and our restaurants, and may make further changes.”

“For nearly two decades, we’ve maintained a strong commitment to sourcing Canadian beef — we are incredibly proud of the role we’ve played in supporting local ranchers and farmers,” Nicole Zeni, the senior manager of supply chains for McDonald’s Canada, added in Thursday’s release.

“In these challenging times, our ability to return to sourcing 100 per cent of our beef from Canadian sources is a true testament to the resiliency of the industry.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network

UPDATED, Aug. 18, 2020 — The article has been updated to include further comment from McDonald’s Canada on the Angus burger.

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Editor, Daily News

Dave Bedard

Editor, Daily News, Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.

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