McDonald's farmer suppliers to see stock diverted as stores close

McDonald's has temporarily shut down all their UK and Ireland restaurants due to the spread of Covid-19
McDonald's has temporarily shut down all their UK and Ireland restaurants due to the spread of Covid-19

British and Irish farmers who supply McDonald's will see their produce diverted as the fast food giant closed stores due to the coronavirus crisis.

McDonald's, one of the largest purchasers of British beef by volume, said it had taken the 'difficult decision' to temporarily close 1,270 restaurants.

The company sources beef, dairy and eggs from over 23,000 British and Irish farmers.

Around 50,000 tonnes of UK and Irish beef is sourced every year from approximately 16,000 producers.

Paul Pomroy, Chief Executive Officer of McDonald’s UK & Ireland, said the move comes amid 'difficult circumstances' for the company.

"We have not taken this decision lightly and know that our restaurants have been playing an important role in the community providing hundreds of thousands of free drinks to frontline health and social workers and emergency services personnel," he said.

"But I have been clear throughout this that we would only continue to operate whilst it was safe for our people and together with our franchisees, we feel now is the time to make this decision to temporarily close."

The Irish Farmers' Association said the temporary closure is a 'big blow' to the beef sector as it will put 'further pressure' on farmers.

IFA President Tim Cullinan said: “Unfortunately, this is what’s happening across Europe where closures have had an impact on the food service sector.

"However, some of this has been mitigated by an increase in retail trade as people are buying more at home.”

Mr Cullinan recently wrote to the European Commissioner for Agriculture calling for more support for EU beef producers as the coronavirus crisis continues.

Arla, which has been supplying milk to McDonald's for 30 years, said it is working with the restaurant chain to reallocate products.

The British dairy cooperative was expected to supply over 30 million litres of organic milk to the restaurant chain this year.

Elsewhere, Nando's has also announced a temporary closure of its 400 restaurants across the UK and Ireland.

The chicken restaurant said in a statement that its eat in, takeaway and delivery 'will all stop until further notice.'