Local beef being served at McDonald's
Alberta residents may notice two familiar faces joining them at the table as they dig into their favourite hamburger at McDonald's.
Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) vice-president Dave Solverson and his daughter, Joanne Solverson, are featured on a new paper tray liner at McDonald's restaurants across Canada. The multi-generation farm family from just west of Camrose are featured beside the image of a Big Mac, made from 100 per cent pure Canadian beef along with a farm site. On the back is nutrition information for all products sold at McDonald's.
"I was first approached by a cattle buyer from Cargill, the company to which we sell most of our finished products," explained Dave. "Cargill is the sole supplier for McDonald's beef patties. They have a plant in Spruce Grove were they manufacture the patties to send across Canada. Cargill talked to me because they wanted a producer-connection to the products McDonald's serves, to tie into a campaign about the restaurant serving 100 per cent Canadian beef."
Not only is the beef Canadian, it could come from the Solverson farm itself. The beef-focused tray liner is part of a campaign to highlight the quality ingredients that are used in McDonald's food. "They wanted to include Joanne (a student at Olds College who returns to the family farm for the summer) to show the fact we are a farm family of several generations," continued Dave.
"We are proud of the quality of our food, and want to be transparent about the ingredients we use and where we source those ingredients," said Jeff Kroll, senior vice-president, national supply chain, McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Limited.
Solverson said he is happy to be a part of the tray liner campaign for beef, as it raises awareness among McDonald's customers about the level of care and attention that Canadian producers put into cattle production every day.
A fourth-generation farm family, the Solversons produce beef at their ranch near Camrose. The family takes great care to ensure the production practices used at their ranch produce healthy and nutritious beef.
As the long-standing chairman of the CCA's animal care committee, Dave is actively involved in animal welfare issues, including the ongoing evolution of national farm animal care guidelines, to ensure they reflect best practices. He was excited to be able to share that messaging with consumers who enjoy Canadian beef at McDonald's. "It is not just our farm, but as a whole, Canadian producers treat their animals with care. Another reason I was pleased to do this for McDonald's is the fact that they have stayed with us over the years, even though we went through some trying times with BSE," said Dave.
"Canadian producers really appreciate McDonald's commitment to 100 per cent Canadian product," Solverson said. "We prefer to do business with companies that have similar standards. Working with McDonald's Canada gives us the opportunity to increase consumer awareness of these standards with the Canadian beef industry," Dave states on the tray liner.
"McDonald's is a major fast food chain, but they care about their products and supply good, healthy food," said Joanne. "They not only provide healthy food, but with the volume they have, they support a lot of Canadian, Alberta producers and several local farms. It shows they support communities."
The CCA has a program for young leaders of which Joanne is a part. "She was named a young leader for 2012. It is a mentorship program and she will be working with industry leaders," said Dave.
"It gives an opportunity to young and enthusiastic people, interested in beef production, to really expand their knowledge through networking opportunities, as well as working with somebody in the industry," said Joanne. "It can help with careers or working knowledge of the industry. It is a good way to meet people from across Canada."
The industry has suffered through tough times over the past 10 years and has lost some young farmers and producers because of the volatile nature of the business. "CCA is concerned about the number of the next generation of producers," said Dave. Fewer producers are expected to produce more in the future. "We are one of the five or six nations that actually produce more than we consume."
The tray liners are printed on 100 per cent recycled paper. The Solverson tray liner will be used throughout the summer.