FAST food giant McDonald's simply cannot afford negative publicity, according to Australia and New Zealand national purchasing manager Philip Southworth.
SECURE SPIN: McDonald's Australia and New Zealand national purchasing manager Philip Southworth says the corporation cannot afford controversy in the media and must have a safe, assured meat supply.
"We've got to have a safe and assured supply," he said.
"We serve 68 million customers a day and can't afford to have one person go to McDonald's and come away with a food-borne illness.
"It goes straight to the media and with the electronic age the way it is, tweeting and tweeting, it gets out there pretty quick.
"It's rapid. It's instantaneous."
Mr Southworth was speaking at the Australian Meat Industry Council business conference, held in Adelaide last week, to outline McDonald's plans for growth over the next two years.
He said McDonald's planned to open 3100 restaurants in the Asia Pacific/Middle East/Africa region by 2014, including 1050 in China, 540 in Japan, and 110 in Australia.
It opened 1000 restaurants globally in 2011 and spent $3.8 billion on beef.
"We're continuing to grow," Mr Southworth said.
"And our supply chain has to feed this growth.
"Traditionally, priority meat was going to the United States, but increasingly we've got proportionately more going into that APMEA zone."
Australian and NZ meat is supplied to McDonald's through the McDonald's Asia Pacific Consortium, owned by five North American McDonald's beef pattie manufacturers and based in Australia.
MAC supplies meat to all of Australia and NZ McDonald's restaurants and supplies 15 per cent of US demand.
It bought and processed 110,000 tonnes of beef last year - or 12pc of the 900,000t used by McDonald's.
Managing director Frank Carbone said Aust and NZ were a key strategic source of beef for McDonald's in the Pacific and APMEA region.
"That will continue to grow in relevance as these markets continue to grow," he said.
"There is growing demand for product over this part of the world.
"Other beef supply countries are having their issues at the moment and we're seeing that demand come through the McDonald's system as well.
Mr Carbone said the Asian market was "mind-boggling" in its size, with a new McDonald's store opening "somewhere in China every 36 hours".
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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