The fast-food giant McDonald’s has signed up to its own Sustainable Land Management Commitment (SLMC) in a bid to improve its efforts to ensure that the food served in its restaurants around the world is sourced from certified sustainable sources. It is an ambitious  and long-term programme, with the SLMC demanding that its suppliers will only use agricultural raw materials for the company’s food and packaging that originate from sustainably-managed land.

“We accept the responsibility that comes with our global presence,” says CEO Jim Skinner. “Each year, we set goals that challenge us to put our resources toward strengthening communities and helping maintain a world that can carry all of us well into the future.”

The firm’s efforts will initially focus on five raw materials: beef, poultry, coffee, palm oil and packaging. Based on analysis by WWF, these five possess the biggest sustainability impacts. “We know that our customers care about where their food comes from,” says Francesca DeBiase, McDonald’s vice president for strategic sourcing. “McDonald’s and our suppliers have taken many positive steps in the past 20 years to improve the sustainability of our supply chain, and now we’re reaching even higher with our vision for sourcing all of our food and packaging from certified sustainable sources.”

The SLMC is just one tranche of the company’s focus on corporate responsibility. In its latest sustainability report, What We’re Made Of, McDonald’s demonstrates gains in the areas of sustainable supply chain, nutrition and well-being, environmental responsibility, employment experience, community, and corporate governance and ethics. Its servings of fruits and vegetables continues to grow, with new menu items added, like oatmeal in the US, to offer more choice and variety.

The business continues to show leadership on diversity; more than 26% of women comprise the top management team, and 49% of all restaurant managers are women. It also continues to work hard on its charity mission. Together with its customer worldwide, the firm has since 2002 raised $170M during the annual McHappy Day fundraiser to support Ronald McDonald House Charities and other children’s causes.

McDonald’s is the biggest foodservice retailer in the world, with more than 32,000 outlets serving 64M customers in 117 countries every day.

As part of the Sustainable Land Management Commitment (SLMC), McDonald’s:
> is working with a multi-stakeholder group, the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, and select regional roundtables, to improve the sustainability of beef production
> has sponsored and is piloting a three-year beef farm study – the largest of its kind – to investigate the carbon emissions on 350 beef farms across the UK and Ireland
> is joining the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) this year and has committed to source only RSPO-certified Palm Oil by 2015 
> has joined the Sustainability Consortium, an independent organisation dedicated to implementing measureable progress based on life-cycle science

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