Producers who participated in McDonald’s “verified sustainable” pilot showed a great deal of enthusiasm for the project and the lessons learned.
“It felt like they (McDonald’s) were going to the grassroots where the other competitors were not,” said Les Wall, feedlot operator and owner of KCL Cattle Company near Coaldale. “I felt like the other competitors were doing marketing campaigns to drive sales.
“I’ve never had any feedback from them, and they’ve never asked me what I do. But from McDonald’s, I did. The communication was excellent.
Stephen Hughes, of Chinook Ranch near Longview, also noted the verification process was informative.
The beef industry needs to continue working in a collaborative way, said Hughes, part of a producer panel at the wrap-up event.
“What I took away from our verification was that where we didn’t score as well, it was because of paperwork or a plan,” he said, “I hope the beef industry as a whole learns to swim together and get on board with this kind of talk. Then I think we’re going to win.
“The Earls thing that you don’t mention by name is a great example of why we have to have these things in place.”
Anne Wasko, an industry analyst who raises cattle at Eastend, Sask., spoke about the importance of Canadian beef industry initiative.
“We don’t want something disastrous to happen, so we are chasing this idea,” she said. “We’re looking for something to lead it and certainly our consumers are asking for this information and these kinds of clarifications. It’s something we have to do and we have to be front-runners.”
Being verified helps you to improve, said Sheila Hilmer, a rancher from Del Bonita.
“I thought I was doing everything right and it really does open up your eyes to see what we can do better and see that we’re doing everything we can to keep this industry going,” she said.
Like others at the wrap-up event, Hilmer gave McDonald’s high marks for the way it handled the pilot.
“I think it’s really cool that you were so willing to listen and support our industry and the fact that you buy 100 per cent Canadian beef, that’s a great thing and we need to thank you for that.”