McDonald's goes local
McDonalds (NYSE: MCD) has gone local. At least it is trying to appear that way.
The fast food giant is running billboards in Seattle implying it uses locally sourced ingredients. One of the billboards implies that a potato grown in Richland, Wash. is sold as French fries in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.
McDonald's isn't the only large company trying to capitalize on the local food movement. On June 28, a Kirkland Safeway advertised a “Farmer’s Market” it planned to host. The manager of a farmer’s market in Redmond, Wash . discovered that Safeway would actually be setting up tents in the parking lot with regular Safeway employees selling Safeway produce "farmer-market style," according to reports.
The term "local" is so widespread that it's important for businesses large and small define what local really means, says Ann Forsthoefel, executive director of Portland Farmer's Market. "The sincerity is what's important, whether it's a huge or small business,” she says. “Is McDonald’s willing to follow the Burgerville model and source their ingredients locally, or is this just another example of 'greenwashing' because everyone wants to shop and eat local right now?"
If McDonald's—which reported more than $7.9 billion in U.S. revenue in 2009—were to move to local ingredients, the economic implications would likely be huge, Forsthoefel says. “Farmers across the world would have business and a way to feed their children,” she says.
If 20 percent of consumer food spending shifts to local products, the result would be $500 million increase in income in King County, Wash., according to a report called “Why Local Linkages Matter,” released by Sustainable Seattle.