McDonald’s extends commitment to local farming with new partnerships

McDonald’s has announced two new partnerships with its long-standing potato supplier McCain and charity The Prince’s Countryside Fund. Both partnerships are part of McDonald’s ongoing commitment to support both the future of farming and work alongside its suppliers to introduce sustainable innovations.

McDonald’s has announced two new partnerships with its long-standing potato supplier McCain and charity The Prince’s Countryside Fund. Both partnerships are part of McDonald’s ongoing commitment to support both the future of farming and work alongside its suppliers to introduce sustainable innovations.

Working alongside McDonald’s potato supplier, McCain, the launch of the Sustainable MacFries Fund aims to increase the resilience of Britain’s potato supply base, by enabling growers to use new technology to improve the understanding of soil quality and optimise water management. Together, McDonald’s and McCain will provide £1 million in grants to British potato growers who produce the varieties that make McDonald’s Fries.

The partnership has been developed in close collaboration with McCain potato growers, and will focus on four areas highlighted as key to improving water and soil sustainability:

  1. Improving soil structure– the partnership will fund the introduction of new infiltration tines for MacFry planters. This technology helps breaks up soil following planting, allowing water to infiltrate the ridges in fields and enable the potato plant to create a better root structure and increase the uptake of water.
  2. Introducing irrigation scheduling technology – the partnership will enable MacFry growers to introduce advanced crop monitoring on their mobile devices to ensure the right amount of water is being used on the crop, optimising their water usage.
  3. Supporting a new sustainable soil and cover crop study – McDonald’s and McCain will look to fund new research to help understand the benefits of using cover crops to retain soil quality, pre and post potatoes, which will provide further clarity for farmers looking to utilise this method.
  4. Supporting individual grower capital projects – funding from the grant will also give farmers the unique opportunity to conduct their own research into soil and water usage in their fields, with a chance to invest in technology that could help them grow more sustainably.

Helping family farms be ‘Ready for Change’

McDonald’s and The Prince’s Countryside Fund are also today announcing the ‘Ready for Change’ workshops – the next milestone in a three-year partnership to help support the economic resilience of farming families. This comes after McDonald’s support helped the Fund to deliver its much needed Rural Response Emergency Grants to farming and rural communities, navigating the challenges related to the Coronavirus.

The ‘Ready for Change’ workshops will support livestock farmers in making informed decisions about change management on family farms. It follows research by McDonald’s and the Fund, which found that 71% of farmers want to make changes to their business over the next five years, but lack the confidence to do so. And with only a third of farmers having a business plan in place that reflects the coming loss of direct subsidies and introduction of environmental schemes, the Ready for Change workshops will help farmers through the transition.

These two new initiatives are the latest step in McDonald’s commitment to supporting British and Irish farming and using its scale for good. Other initiatives include Farm Forward, an agricultural programme to improve skills, animal welfare and environmental standards, decade-long support for FAI Farms research projects and a partnership supporting industry talent with the Progressive Young Farmer programme.

McDonald’s is soon launching a new campaign to highlight the ‘surprisingly local’ ingredients behind many of its menu favourites. The campaign celebrates the breadth and depth of McDonald’s supplier relationships, showcasing over 23,000 British and Irish farmers who provide the quality, local produce that helps make the food its customers love.

Customers will be able to learn all about the local footprint of the McDonald’s menu through ‘Map my McDonald’s’, a new interactive tool plotting some of the local, fresh ingredients that can be found in their region, as well as some of the farmers that supply them.

Nina Prichard, Head of Sustainable and Ethical Sourcing at McDonald’s UK and Ireland said:

“We have a long heritage in supporting farmers as part of our ongoing commitment to continuously improving our supply chain. We couldn’t serve the food we’re famous for without the support and hard work of over 23,000 British and Irish farmers who supply us.

“It’s for that reason that we’re committed to working in partnership with the British and Irish farming industry. These two new initiatives are an essential next step in that mission, helping both our suppliers and the industry look to tomorrow. The Sustainable MacFries Fund in partnership with McCain will provide much-needed funding to boost the resilience and sustainability of British potato growers, while the Ready for Change workshops will help livestock farmers face a fast-changing future.

“I’m proud of McDonald’s long history in supporting the future of farming. We will continue to work with our farmers and suppliers to innovate, supporting both the future of their businesses and the sustainability of our supply chain.”

Daniel Metheringham, Agriculture Director at McCain GB & Ireland, said: “We’re passionate about potatoes, which means we are doing all we can to create a sustainable future for potato farmers. That’s why we are so excited to launch the Sustainable MacFries Fundwith McDonald’s today, an initiative that will provide funding and support to potato farmers. The investment will help fund practical on-the-ground solutions and accelerate best practice on farms to improve soil health and water quality, allowing farmers to thrive. We’re looking forward to working with McDonald’s going forward and seeing the positive results the fund will have on farmers across the country.”

Andrew Francis, a McCain farmer and McDonald’s Flagship Farmer said: “The investment announced by McCain and McDonald’s will be really important in providing funding and support to potato farmers like myself, and to ensure our industry continues to thrive in a sustainable way. Knowing that the scheme has been designed with direct input from farmers too is fantastic and will undoubtedly be one that farmers get behind.”

Keith Halstead, Executive Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said: “We’re proud to work with McDonald’s to provide vital assistance to farming communities through the Ready for Change workshop. At a time of great uncertainty and transformation in British agriculture, equipping farm businesses with the information and support they need to adapt and make sensible, informed decisions about their businesses is more vital than ever.”

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