At an event in Brussels today the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform has announced the launch of new principles for beef farming sustainability.

McDonald’s chairs the European-wide SAI Platform beef working group, which has developed the principles and includes producers, processors and retailers.

According to the company, the principles are the most complete guidelines developed for beef production in Europe to date, covering sustainable farming systems, economic sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability and requiring achievements in each area of beef cattle production.

McDonald’s owns or franchises 84 restaurants in Ireland and is the third-largest multinational employer here, with more than 4,200 employees. It also has a number of significant supplier deals with Irish companies, including a €300m beef contract with Dawn Meats, an agreement with Ballygowan Natural Mineral Water to becoming exclusive bottled water supplier and a supplier deal with Tipperary-based bacon producer Dew Valley.

Indeed a number of key Irish agriculture stakeholders are at today’s briefing.

Speaking to AgriLand, Keith Kenny, senior director of supply chain at McDonald’s Europe, said: “Beef is the most iconic item on our menu, so sourcing beef sustainably has long been a priority for our business. More than a decade ago we introduced our McDonald’s Agricultural Assurance Programme (MAAP) that has been helping drive higher standards in our supply chain. However to date there has been no widely agreed definition of what sustainable beef looks like. SAI Platform has successfully brought together producers and processors from across the supply chain, along with key retailers as knowledge exchange partners, to establish a set of principles for sustainable beef farming that we can all support.

“This is a significant achievement and the new principles will be instrumental in aligning actions and accelerating progress towards a more sustainable beef supply chain. The next step is to develop a set of sustainable beef farming practices to help farmers meet those principles in a practical way and then widely promote and support their adoption. At the same time we are also aligning our work with the global roundtable for sustainable beef.”

More reports to follow on AgriLand

Pictured at the announcement last September of when Tipperary-based bacon producer Dew Valley was awarded a contract to supply nine million pieces of cooked Irish bacon (36 tonnes) annually to McDonald’s were from left: Jack Blake, owner and director of Dew Valley; Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, and Adrian Crean, managing director of McDonald’s Ireland