In many ways, the global meat supply chain is similarly miraculous. We’ve made technological advancements that allowed for the production and distribution of meat more safely, quickly and efficiently than people ever thought possible just a few generations ago.
The truth is, this pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in the meat supply chain that are challenging our food system like never before. Meeting consumer demand responsibly, especially during times of crisis, will require the industry to make three key commitments.
We must keep workers safe
We cannot take the pedal off the gas. Measures ensuring the health and well-being of workers must continue to evolve. Industry, in close partnership with government, must lead and base their decisions upon the best available science. The mandate to evolve also applies across the entire meat supply chain — including farmers, processors, distributors, retailers and restaurants.
We must tap into local and global resources
Covid-19 shone a spotlight on the tightness of processing capacity within the meat supply chain.
Compared to a generation ago, there are fewer but much more efficient operations capable of producing greater quantities of food. This model supports modern agriculture as we know it, allowing for the consistency and low costs consumers have come to expect. It also magnifies the impact of disruptions like disease and natural disasters when they occur.
I believe we can mitigate those disruptions by building an agile, diverse supply chain comprised of local farmers, multinational agriculture companies and everything in between.
We saw numerous examples of local businesses supporting their communities through online sales and delivery during the Covid-19 crisis. At McDonald’s, local sourcing helps us diversify supply while also supporting family businesses and driving local economic growth.
Equally important, maintaining a global perspective allows us to leverage our scale and reallocate supply if shortages arise. It’s thanks to this philosophy that throughout the pandemic, McDonald’s has not had a single supply break globally, though we continue to monitor supply closely. That also feels like a daily miracle, but we know it is expertise, collaboration and strong relationships in our supply chain and with our franchisees that made it possible.
We must invest in innovation
Covid-19 isn’t the first challenge we’ve faced as an industry, and it certainly won’t be the last. We need to keep actively exploring and funding new technologies that support more efficient, safe and sustainable production.
As painful as the Covid-19 pandemic has been for so many, it has also forced important conversations like this one that will make both the meat industry and our restaurant industry stronger. Through collaboration and partnership, we can emerge from this crisis better positioned to ensure the security and sustainability of the meat supply chain to help feed generations to come.