It’s why our burgers are made from 100% British and Irish beef, and we’re proud to work with over 20,000 farmers who are all approved by a nationally recognised farm assurance schemes, such as Red Tractor or Bord Bia.

As part of our journey to net zero, we are committed to leading the change on beef sustainability and supporting the farmers who supply us. According to the Government’s Committee on Climate Change, greenhouse gas emissions from UK beef are about half the global average. But we can and need to do more to reduce emissions further. 

We launched our Farm Forward programme in 2012 after consulting with over 1,500 farmers in the UK. The programme is intended to help UK and Irish farmers to become more sustainable, resilient, and to protect animal welfare. As part of the programme McDonald’s works in partnership with its suppliers across three key areas:

We innovate, investing in the latest research to support farm sustainability and animal welfare. 

We illustrate, working with our farmers and suppliers to bring these innovations to life on farm to share best practice. 

And we influence, using our scale to encourage industry progress and innovation.

For over a decade, we’ve worked with FAI Farms, to conduct independent research which helps develop and create sustainable farming practices for the food industry. We have recently collaborated on the McDonald's Better Grazing Project, aimed at improving beef sustainability by helping farmers maximise use of their grassland. We are also a founding member of the European Roundtable for Beef Sustainability, working with farmers and industry experts to develop targets that monitor and drive progress on the health and welfare of cattle and support the farmers that rear them.

Our progress so far

Driving innovation

In February 2021 we launched our most recent project with FAI Farms, to define the benefits of applying regenerative principles to beef farming using adaptive multi-paddock grazing for beef cattle. We expect this will deliver environmental benefits such as better soil health, a greater diversity of wildlife and species, and increase the removal and storage of carbon by adopting this approach. Learn more about the project in this short film.

We work with our suppliers at two innovation farms, one in Wales and one in Ireland. Here we are working with experts (including cattle genetics, nutrition and carbon accounting) to develop blueprints for beef sustainability. The lessons we learn here can be scaled up and applied to farms around the country, to support our aim to reach net zero emissions by 2040.

Illustrating innovations at a farm level

In 2021 we updated our Farm Forward programme to include a new Sustainable Beef Network. We’re working with British and Irish beef farmers to share knowledge and to provide a forum for them to discuss key issues. We meet with the farmers several times a year. We are also working with each participating farm on individual Farm Sustainability Action plans to reduce their carbon footprint and promote responsible use of antibiotics.

We will continue to invest in our Flagship Farmers programme, which provides an insight into what some of our most innovative farmers are doing to address sustainability challenges and how they share best practice with the wider farming community.

We will also continue to host our ‘Ready for Change’ workshops in partnership with The Prince’s Countryside Fund, to support beef and other livestock farmers in making informed decisions about change management on family farms.



The Prince's Countryside Fund



Sustainable Beef Network



The Prince's Countryside Fund



Sustainable Beef Network

Influencing industry change 

We were founding members of the recognised industry forums UK Cattle Sustainability Platform and the European Roundtable for Beef Sustainability (ERBS), which is helping to shape beef sustainability in Europe. We will report on our progress through these forums. The four themes of work for the ERBS, which are supported by eight goals, are to: improve the environmental footprint of farming systems, to preserve the effectiveness of animal medicines in beef farming through the responsible use of antibiotics, to improve animal health and welfare, and to improve the resilience of farm businesses.

And we will continue to work pro-actively to contribute to the development of farm standards including Red Tractor in the UK and the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme in Ireland.

European Roundtable for Beef Sustainability

 


Red tractor

 

Bord Bia




UK Cattle Sustainability Platform

European Roundtable for Beef Sustainability

 


Red tractor

 

Bord Bia




UK Cattle Sustainability Platform

We also report against McDonald’s global goals for beef sustainability. See here to find out more.

Achieving a 23% carbon footprint reduction

We commissioned an independent study to look at ways to reduce carbon emissions on over 200 British and Irish beef farms. By focusing on factors like daily liveweight gains, improving animal health and maximising home-grown feed, farmers reduced their carbon footprint by nearly 23% over a six-year period and identified annual savings of up to £23,000.

Achieving a 23% carbon footprint reduction

We commissioned an independent study to look at ways to reduce carbon emissions on over 200 British and Irish beef farms. By focusing on factors like daily liveweight gains, improving animal health and maximising home-grown feed, farmers reduced their carbon footprint by nearly 23% over a six-year period and identified annual savings of up to £23,000.