McDonald’s UK creates virtual supply chain experience for public

10 May 2016

McDonald’s UK is launching a virtual reality experience to allow people to see behind the scenes at some of the food firm’s farms, factories and restaurants.

The food firm said that the aim of the ‘Follow our Foodsteps' campaign was to champion British and Irish farming and challenge outdated stereotypes.

Via a touring immersive experience, the public will be able to ‘virtually’ trace the three key stages of food production from provenance and farmers and farming, to suppliers and the production process, through to preparation and cooking in restaurants.

The public will be able to use virtual reality headsets to test their skill driving a tractor during a potato harvest, visit an organic dairy farm in South West England and a free-range egg producer in Cumbria, and two British and Irish beef patty making facilities, via immersive videos.

People will also be able to follow McDonald’s crew as they take an order and prepare food in a busy restaurant kitchen via immersive cinema, and take a ‘Guess my job’ food and farming skills challenge.

All of the farmers, food developers and experts featured in the immersive experiences are part of McDonald’s UK supply chain. 

The campaign, created alongside a coalition of industry suppliers and partners, is part of McDonald’s UK’s longer term Farm Forward programme, and the food firm said that it was launching it at time when UK food and farming industries were looking for fresh talent across farming, horticulture, engineering and food development.

McDonald’s UK quoted figures from the Food and Drink Federation, saying the sector needed 109,000 new recruits to the food industry by 2022. It also quoted consumer research, conducted by YouGov, which found that three quarters of people wanted to know more about where their food came from. It also found that one in five people were unable to explain any process behind food production, and two in five people had never set foot on a working farm. The research also showed that 83% of people surveyed had never been given careers advice about the food and farming sectors, while 60% had never considered a career in food and farming.

Connor McVeigh, director of supply chain, McDonald’s UK, said that there was a lack of understanding about how food was produced and the vital role the farming and food industries.

“As one of the biggest customers of British and Irish farming, we want to lift the lid on the passion and skills that exist at every stage of the process, from farm to front-counter,” he said. “Over the last decade we have invited people behind the scenes of our own supply chain on a number of occasions but we wanted to take this even further.”

“By bringing together tech developers with farmers and food experts, we have created an immersive virtual reality experience that will allow people to follow in the footsteps of farmers, suppliers and our crew, bringing the best of UK food production from the countryside to communities across the UK. Our hope is that it will help build pride in British and Irish farming, challenge outdated stereotypes and celebrate the best of food and farming in the UK today.”

Environment secretary, Elizabeth Truss said: “With 3.8 million people employed in the food chain it is vital for our economic future that we make British food and farming all it can be. By embracing the latest technology we will foster the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

The Follow our Foodsteps experience will be making the following stops on its UK tour:

·      Balmoral Show, Northern Ireland, 11th-13th May

·      Royal Bath & West Show, 1st-4th June

·      Royal Highland Show, 23rd -26th June

·      Kent County Show, 8th-10th July

·      Royal Welsh Show, 18th-21st July

·      World Skills Show, Birmingham, 17th-19th November

·      London Skills Show, 9th-10th December

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