“Our customers care about where food comes from and we want to build on that trust,” McDonalds Europe chief supply chain officer Karl Fritz said. “Flagship Farms highlights successful innovations ahead of the mainstream and we believe it will help us assure the future of sustainable agricultural production in Europe.”
2008 Farmers Weekly Poultry Farmer of the Year David Brass is the only UK Flagship Farm. He supplies around 25m eggs to McDonalds each year, sourced from his own 48,000-bird free range flock near Penrith, Cumbria, and several local producers.
Mr Brass has demonstrated how high welfare standards can benefit the wellbeing of the flock, the environment and the farm’s profitability. In particular, he has planted 100,000 trees in the last 18 months as he believes this increases productivity of free-range hens and reduces welfare problems.
“There’s very little science behind free range egg production. We want to change that and prove to people that these things do work and benefit the bottom line. With Flagship Farms, it’s nice to be able to learn from other farmers and improve what they’re doing as well.”
Mr Fritz said that such farm-based initiatives may not be rewarded with a higher price for the end product, but they did improve brand acceptance among consumers and therefore improved sales in the longer-term.
“The ultimate goal of initiatives like Flagship Farms and MAPP is to assure supply, maintain price stability and respond to consumer demand for responsibly sourced, traceable produce, so that everyone benefits,” he said.
McDonalds Flagship Farms
The Lakes Free Range Egg Company, Cumbria
Free range egg producer using range of methods, including planting trees, to improve flock welfare
Dempsey Farm, Ireland
Beef farm demonstrating high standards of animal welfare and good environmental management
Benefica do Ribatejo, Portugal
Tomato farm using range of technology to meet processor requirements
Lettuce producer that has demonstrated how efficient water use and targeted fertiliser application can improve productivity and protect the environment
Dairy farm using range of methods to improve cow welfare. Examples include dual chamber water beds, grooved anti-slip flooring, weekly foot bathing and tri-annual foot trimming
Cereal farm that has shown how soil testing can maximise yields and avoid over-application of fertiliser
Farm Frites, Poland
Potato farm that uses several innovative processes and technology to improve use of soil, water and energy. Potato yields have been increased to 45t/ha, compared with a national average in Poland of nearer 12-15t/h