Beef hamburger, priced at 13,450 yen ($112), is served at the Ritz-Carlton in Tokyo May 1, 2007.
Beef hamburger, priced at 13,450 yen ($112), is served at the Ritz-Carlton in Tokyo May 1, 2007. Reuters/Kiyoshi Ota

In New Zealand, fast food major McDonald's has embarked on a mission to showcase its commitment to sustainable beef that goes into its brand of hamburgers. In a quality initiative, the U.S. company has partnered with Beef+Lamb New Zealand, Silver Fern Farms and Anzco Foods to work with Kiwi farmers so as to push good management practices and ensure that the fast food company is sourcing "verified sustainable beef around the world."

In the world market, New Zealand enjoys the fame for producing grass-fed beef, thanks to extensive pastures and favourable climate. McDonald's has been a significant buyer of New Zealand beef. Within New Zealand, the outlets take 5,000 tonnes a year, including 700 tonnes of prime angus. Abroad also, the company uses 32,000 tonnes of New Zealand beef. In 2013, the export of New Zealand beef and offal had a volume of 367,000 tonnes. A McDonald's spokeswoman rightly claimed the company is the largest purchaser of New Zealand beef, reported Stuff.Co.Nz.

The programme has cheered leading Kiwi beef producers. Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Dr Scott Champion called it an "exciting" programme. "New Zealand has built up a significant relationship by supplying fast food chains with ground beef. New Zealand's hall mark is lean grass beef component for creating the perfect hamburger," Champion said.

Supply Chain

The lean beef from New Zealnd gets blended with fatty domestic beef in the U.S. to produce the desired product that McDonald's is looking for. Champion said it is a McDonald's way of looking to the supply chain to verify that products are produced sustainably. Scott Champion noted that the programme had a good take off. It is working in an eco system with farmers and processors identifying and developing good management practices for supporting sustainable beef production. This will also translate into sustainable production systems, lower inputs, new technologies and highest levels of animal care.

Scott Champion said McDonald's pitch for sustainability is similar to the zeal of New Zealand's beef and sheep farmers. "This sustainability programme will highlight a range of best practice activity, starting on the farm and following right through to the McDonald's customer," Champion noted.

Big Investment

McDonald's New Zealand's managing director, Patrick Wilson, said McDonald's has invested US$50,000 in the New Zealand programme and the learnings from the beef pilot would be scaled up to other parts of the supply chain. He called beef as the most iconic ingredient in its food business, according to Scoop News.

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