NFU and McDonald’s to hold “sourcing British” talks

The fast food chain, McDonald’s, has a great track record on its sourcing of British eggs but “leaves a lot to be desired” when it comes to the poultry meat, according to NFU chief policy adviser Gary Ford.

The union’s “understanding” is that only 10% of the chain’s poultry meat intake is British, a point which attracted appropriate producer comment when McDonald’s UK supply chain director, Connor McVeigh, addressed a markets sessions during the 2016 NFU conference.

Shropshire broiler producer, James Mottershead, duly took the opportunity to ask why McDonald’s had not shown similar (egg-level) investment in sourcing British poultry meat. He also asked what could be done to work towards an improved ratio over the next five to 10 years.

According to a report published by the NFU, Mr McVeigh said that the vast majority of chicken sourced was British or European and that there was a bigger and broader picture in terms of the British poultry industry meeting demand, in part due to the exceptional level of growth in poultry meat consumption.

This exceptional level of growth meant, he said, that the sector was not in a position where it could meet this demand, with the figure being nearer 60% (than 10%).

Pushed on what can be done to increase sourcing of British poultry he was reported as saying that the volume of British chicken at McDonald’s had increased dramatically over the past five years.

NFU deputy president, Minette Batters, who was chairing the session, added that given the number of poultry sheds that had recently been built in the country, she would be confident that we would soon be able to get to 100% supply.

Mr McVeigh responded by saying it was a position that he would continue to look at, but that he didn’t envisage it changing in the very near future. He also said that McDonald’s wanted to understand what role it could play in terms of supporting some of the challenges that farmers faced around planning applications, what guidance it could provide around innovation, and where its requirements would sit in the future.

NFU poultry board chairman Duncan Priestner (pictured above) subsequently wrote to Mr McVeigh to say the poultry industry is “ready to play its part” in meeting the challenge and is keen to understand how it can help McDonald’s to get there.

A meeting has been arranged with McDonald’s and is due to take place in April where the NFU will be encouraging it to follow the lead of McDonald’s France, which has agreed to make its chicken nuggets home grown.

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