McDonald’s Corp. says that by 2020, all of the coffee served in its more than 14,000 U.S. locations will come from “sustainable” sources—a move in line with other recent efforts by the chain to appeal to consumers’ growing concerns over its ingredients.
In recent months the chain has made notable efforts to revamp its image and its offerings including a plan to switch to using only cage-free eggs by 2025, the removal of artificial preservatives from menu staples including Chicken McNuggets, and the addition of healthier menu items including kale salads.
“Our customers want to see where are products come from, what’s in it and how it’s made,” Townsend Bailey, head of supply-chain sustainability for Oak Brook-based McDonald’s told Crain’s.
The coffee announcement comes via a partnership with environmental organization Conservation International in an effort to protect the threatened coffee industry from the ravages of climate change, among other dangers.
Conservation International worked with Starbucks to develop similar sustainability practices—the chain says 99 percent of its coffee was ethically sourced in 2015.
The move is also an effort to ensure a steady supply of coffee for McDonald’s from countries including Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Peru.
“With changing dynamics in coffee with climate change, it’s really an important topic to make sure we are engaging farmers and helping them,” says Bailey.
And the efforts are an investment for the chain, reports Crain’s. While McDonald’s hasn’t disclosed the cost to make the switch, the company reportedly spent nearly $7 million recently to train Guatemalan farmers in handling coffee diseases and weather-related challenges.
“It is something that we are investing a lot in,” Bailey said. “It’s not cheap to have engagement at this scale.”
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