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McDonald’s, Unilever ‘Beef Up Sustainability’

cowThe Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, whose members include McDonald’s Europe and Unilever, has launched its Principles for Sustainable Beef Farming, intended to help the beef industry produce beef sustainably.

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

The principles are designed for global application, for both developed and emerging nations, and apply to mainstream producers in all areas of the world, the group says. The next phase for the SAI Platform Beef Working Group is the development of a set of practices to go alongside these principles that will help the adoption of the principles on farms.

Until now, there has been “no widely agreed definition of what sustainable beef looks like,” says Keith Kenny, senior director, supply chain at McDonald’s Europe.

The SAI Platform Beef Working Group says by having one set of principles, the beef sector can now focus on delivering against these principles at an increased rate. It says the principles provide the necessary sustainability assurances needed for companies’ supply chains, which means purchasers don’t need to develop and pursue their own sourcing programs.

Two years ago McDonald’s announced a company-wide commitment to sustainable sourcing that includes sourcing guidelines for palm oil, beef and coffee. At the time McDonald’s said it was working with the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef to improve the sustainability of beef production and had begun piloting a three-year beef farm study to evaluate the carbon emissions on 350 beef farms in the UK and Ireland.

Earlier this year Swiss-based business school IMD, the SAI Platform and five other global organizations launched an open-source tool that aims to give managers a step-by-step roadmap on how to effectively build and roll out sustainable agriculture sourcing strategies.

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