McDonald’s Tackles Food Waste

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Spotlight on McDonald’s

McDonald’s leverages its resource and supply chain to get food where it’s most needed

Walk into a McDonald’s anywhere in the world, and you know exactly what to expect. With over 38,000 locations in 115 countries, the company’s brand promise is both straightforward and universal: “an inexpensive, familiar and consistent meal delivered quickly in a clean environment.”

At Carpenter Group, we’ve seen that McDonald’s delivers far more than it promises, and that its commitment extends beyond burgers and fries. The company was founded in 1940, but 1974 was perhaps an even more consequential year in its history. That’s when the first Ronald McDonald House opened next door to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. Today there are 368 Ronald McDonald Houses in 64 countries—comfortable residences for families traveling from afar whose children are being treated at nearby hospitals. In addition, 214 Ronald McDonald’s Family Rooms provide local families with a place to rest, shower, decompress and nap during the day.

Both services are free through Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), a foundation committed to improving the health and well-being of children. During the pandemic, acceptance of new families has been necessarily curtailed to avoid putting current families at risk. At the same time, many RMHC programs have shifted their focus to support hospital staff and the children they care for, donating masks and other PPE, as well as Happy Meal toys and picture books. The company has also moved quickly on another critical front—food insecurity.

“When COVID-19 struck, we found ourselves in a situation we’d never been in before—ending each day with ingredients we couldn’t use because people were quarantining and not eating out,” says Simone Gourguechon, Global Sustainability Strategy Manager. Some restaurants were shut down due to government restrictions; meanwhile, the combination of school closures and rising unemployment was creating widespread food insecurity. “This meant that, more than ever, we couldn’t let our food go to waste,” says Simone.

Joining forces with the Global FoodBanking Network, Food Donation Connection and Feeding America, McDonald’s has helped direct millions of pounds of “stranded food,” such as meat, lettuce, milk and cheese to community food banks in the U.S. and worldwide.

To facilitate that effort, McDonald’s relies on well-established supply chain relationships. “There are many levers we can pull in order to maintain control of our inventory and assure supply for our customers,” says Simone. “During the pandemic, we’ve further diversified our beef supply chain in the U.S. by adding new local suppliers and sourcing additional product globally where needed.” Meanwhile, allocation of certain items is carefully controlled to ensure the appropriate distribution of food across all restaurants. McDonald’s also works with its suppliers to monitor available beef supply so that shortages can be quickly replenished in advance of shortages.

To be sure, McDonald’s had prioritized disaster preparedness long before the pandemic began, always ready to redirect supply from one area to another in times of crisis and rally to the aid of communities in need. The company continues to work with farmers, ranchers and producers to identify and elevate practices that lead to positive environmental outcomes, support long-term farmer viability and meet the needs of customers.

“Food waste is a serious issue,” notes the McDonald’s website. “The United Nations estimates fully one third of all food produced every year is either discarded by consumers or retailers, or spoiled due to poor handling. We believe that good food and precious resources should never go to waste, and we want to use our scale to help tackle this global challenge.”

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 About Brand Acts of Kindness® 

Brand Acts of Kindness® is a series from Carpenter Group that spotlights companies across industries that are living their brand values in addressing the unprecedented challenges facing the world today.

The series initially headlined companies assisting healthcare workers and first responders, as well as communities, businesses and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also highlight brands taking the lead in supporting social and racial justice, LGBTQ rights, sustainability and the environment. Their stories show how innovation, resolve and action, built on a solid value proposition, can both strengthen a brand and help create a better world.

About Carpenter Group

Carpenter Group is an independent, woman-owned strategic branding, messaging and marketing communications firm that has delivered results-driven solutions to financial, professional services and technology firms for 30+ years.

Our broad cross-discipline experience enables us to craft brand messaging and carry it through to the channels that most effectively connect with our clients’ target audience, from editorial content to advertising to event marketing and more.