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Canada to be first to supply McDonald’s with sustainable beef

From the Calgary Herald

McDonald’s announced in January it would begin sourcing only verifiable sustainable beef in 2016, and the multinational company is now in talks with Canadian beef producers about them being the first to be certified to provide it. Alberta is to play a crucial role in the pilot supply project. The province is the heart of Canada’s beef industry, home to about 40 per cent of the national cattle herd and about 80 per cent of the country’s beef processing. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Alberta Beef Producers and other industry players have been meeting McDonald’s Canada officials to discuss how a sustainable supply chain can be put in place.

Fawn Jackson, manager of environment and sustainability for the CCA, said Canada’s animal welfare standards made it a “natural fit” for a pilot project.

“We really are global leaders in this area.”

Canada’s new Verified Beef Production program upholds food safety standards during processing, she said, and checks on other areas including animal care and biodiversity were being added to it.

“We’ve got all the building blocks right here,” said Bryan Walton, chief executive of the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association. “We’re a beef nation. We have the land base, we have the know-how, we have the infrastructure.”

Pine Lake cow-calf producer and CCA director Doug Sawyer said work defining what sustainable actually means and how it would be verified would likely focus on combining the checks and balances the industry already has in place.

“We’re just in the process of putting all of our pieces together that we already have and we’ll try to identify any gaps that are there,” he said.

That would come in the form of the Beef Information Exchange System – known as BIXS – which would provide a single source for all the information about a cattle beast needed to prove sustainable beef production.

“It can be difficult to exchange information from one side of the program to the other and so (BIXS) enables that,” Jackson said.