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McDonald’s, beef farmers answer questions about Canadian beef

Burger giant teams up with the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Program, demonstrates commitment to supporting 100% Canadian beef

By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com

McDonald’s Canada, is leading the way in the food service industry with its continued support of Canadian beef producers and their product. It’s why they’re working together to help answer consumers’ questions about beef.

Last month, McDonald’s had its ‘Our Food. Your Questions’ booth on display at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair held in Toronto, and for the first time, beef producers were invited to answer questions relating to beef production. Five beef farmers from the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Program (CYL) were at the booth for beef weekend at the Royal, working together with the McDonald’s team.

The CYL program is a mentorship opportunity for producers’ between the ages of 18 and 35 years, which provides industry specific training to cultivate future leaders in the Canadian beef industry. Jill Harvie, programs manager for Canadian Cattlemen’s Association says, working with the food service industry is the best way to connect with consumers. “McDonald’s has always been a strong supporter of Canadian beef and they’re great to work with,” she said. Harvie attended the Royal along with other CYL participants, and says she hopes to continue working with McDonald’s in the future. More information about CYL can be found at: http://www.cattlemensyoungleaders.com/. The program is currently accepting applications for next year until January 19th, 2014.

The following is a question and answer exchange between Farms.com and McDonald’s Canada. Questions were submitted after witnessing McDonald’s ‘Our Food. Your Questions’ booth in action at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair held in November.

Q. What is the purpose of the ‘Our Food. Your Questions’ campaign?

A. We’re proud of the quality of our food and passionate about debunking the myths and misinformation about our menu. Our Food. Your Questions. allows us to open our virtual doors to answer Canadian’s questions about our food. It’s an ongoing online transparency platform where Canadians can ask any question about our food and receive a personalized answer.

Q. Since the campaign has been launched, what has the response been from consumers? Has it enhanced public image?

A. To date, we have received over 22,500 questions on the site. We have also produced over 20 video responses (English and French) to some of the more common questions. Response has been extremely positive as consumers appreciate our openness and transparency.

Q. Why is it important to bring the booth to public events such as the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair?

A. We are the largest purchaser of beef in the Canadian restaurant industry and over 80% of our ingredients are sourced domestically in Canada. We attend events like the Royal Winter Affair to demonstrate our commitment to Canadian agriculture and Canadian farmers. It also gives us the opportunity to answer consumer questions about our food directly and point them toward the new website as well.

Q. Why does McDonald’s source its beef in Canada?

A. In short, we’re committed to Canadian farmers. We value the efforts of the Canadian beef industry, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and our government agencies in ensuring one of the best beef supplies in the world. For all these reasons, our patties are made of 100% pure Canadian beef.

Q. Do consumers’ value that your burgers are made with 100% Canadian beef?

A. We believe that our customers do value our commitment to Canadian beef. Last year, we purchased more than 70 million pounds of Canadian beef and we’re proud and dedicated to our support of Canadian beef producers.

Q. What has it been like to work with Canadian beef producers?

A. It’s a real pleasure, and always inspiring to witness the dedication of producers.  Our work with beef producers in Canada is long-standing and we’re always interested in extending that in new and innovative ways, such as our ongoing engagement with Cattlemen’s Young Leaders and our recent collaboration with producers, and others, in creating the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.

Q. Why do you think it was important to partner with the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Program?

A. Beyond our overall commitment to Canadian farmers and producers, we were inspired by the quality of the participants, and the enthusiasm this program stimulates.  Also, since we have many multi-generational franchisee families in our own system we know the extra value added that derives from passing on knowledge, devotion and passion for a particular operation.  We hope that our support for Cattlemen’s Young Leaders, and the Canadian beef industry, will assist in making beef production a viable choice for current and future generations of Canadian farmers and ranchers.

Q. What was the response from consumers seeing young cattle producers helping answer questions relating to beef?

A. Having the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders participants with us at the Royal Winter Fair provided an element of authenticity to our responses. It was real-time demonstration of our support of Canadian beef producers and their appreciation of our 100% Canadian beef commitment.

Q. Do you see McDonalds continuing to work with Canadian beef producers in educating the public about the beef served in your restaurants?

A. McDonald’s Canada has a platform to help spread the word about the quality of Canadian beef production practices and the people behind it. Through our work with Cattlemen’s Young Leaders and the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, we believe there will be many more opportunities in the future to engage with our customers and share the real story about the beef we serve in our restaurants across the country – produced right here in Canada.

Editor’s note: Farms.com would like to thank McDonald’s Canada for taking the time to answer our questions relating to Canadian beef and CYL. Additionally, we would also like to extend our appreciation to Jill Harvie for helping coordinate this interview opportunity, and meeting with our editor in person to talk about the CYL program at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association office in Calgary, AB.