McDonald's and Walmart help develop sustainable beef roadmap

21 August 2020

Non-profit The Nature Conservatory (TNC) has joined forces with McDonald’s and Walmart to develop a Roadmap for a Sustainable Beef System to raise supply chain standards.

The roadmap condenses scientific evidence related to beef production practices to help companies make supply chain improvements and track progress on environmental and other sustainability goals.

TNC said it partnered with the University of Minnesota to analyse McDonald’s beef and chicken supply chains and identify climate mitigation opportunities – a process which has led McDonald’s to build programmes with suppliers to meet its 31% greenhouse gas reduction goal. 

TNC worked with Walmart to identify opportunities and actions to improve sustainability in its beef supply.

Walmart US and Sam’s Club US, a chain of membership-only retail warehouse clubs owned by Walmart, said they plan to source fresh beef products more sustainably by 2025.

Walmart and its sister company aim to improve grazing management and soil health across 12m acres of land.

Other efforts will focus on animal welfare and responsible use of antibiotics, as well as helping suppliers improve grain sourcing and grazing management practices.

At the same time suppliers will be expected to uphold the animal welfare standards set by non-profit American Humane.

“We expect our suppliers will not tolerate animal abuse of any kind and support our position on the judicious use of antibiotics in farm animals,” said Walmart.

Suppliers will be encouraged to continuously improve their efforts to understand the entire beef production cycle and those who have a tech-enabled supply chain to measure sustainability impact at scale will be given priority.

“The infusion of modern technology may help beef suppliers measure the benefits of grazing and grain best practices, adaptively manage and offer a more accurate way to trace impact,” Walmart said.

“It can also help support beef suppliers’ efforts to better understand the environmental footprint of their supply chains, for instance using geographic and greenhouse gas indicators.”

TNC said: “Sustainability needs to be business-as-usual in the US beef industry in order to ensure long-term food production, economic security for ranchers and their communities, and a healthy environment for us all.

“Seeing some of the world’s largest purchasers of beef take proactive steps to achieve sustainability within their own supply chains signals tremendous momentum in that direction. Important strides are being made, but there’s still so much more to do.”

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