It Turns Out McDonald's Owns The Chicken Farms It Uses For Food

As inflation continues to rise, many restauranteurs are concerned that the increasing costs of ingredients and supplies will negatively affect their business. According to a 2021 DoorDash survey, 42% of merchants claimed that these price hikes on goods were a top concern. This may explain why your favorite mom-and-pop shop had to raise their prices, or why your go-to late-night spot now charges for sauce packets. However, one way for companies to get ahead of the market instability is to vertically integrate suppliers into their business model, allowing them to directly control the distribution of various ingredients and supplies without worrying about third parties. 

McDonald's has utilized this business model to source their chicken products: That's right, Old McDonald really does have a farm. While fans of McNuggets aren't able to visit any actual farms with Golden Arches at the entrance, the company does own chicken farms as a way to vertically integrate the distribution of this iconic ingredient.

This former McDonald's chef is spilling all their secrets

People online seem to be extra curious about the ins and outs of how McDonald's operates. After all, in one study conducted by VistaPrint, researchers found that the golden arches displayed by the global fast food chain are the second most recognizable logo in the U.S. One online source is spilling all the secrets about McDonald's: TikToker and former corporate chef for Ronald McDonald has made a name for himself answering all the questions followers have about how McDonald's is run. One savvy commenter was curious about vertical integration at McDonald's, to which chef Mike Haracz responded by confirming that McDonald's does, in fact, own chicken farms. Not only does McDonald's own the chickens that will one day become McNuggets, but the company also owns all the byproducts of the chickens, such as eggs, eggshells, and other chicken parts that are not turned into ground chicken. The creator shared that these leftover products are sold by McDonald's farms to other companies that utilize them for things like pet food.

Other meats such as beef, however, are not vertically integrated by the company. While McDonald's can promise that its burgers contain 100% beef, the company trusts Lopez farms and other open market suppliers to provide top-quality meat. Many of the other ingredients used in a McDonald's kitchen, such as fish, dairy, and produce, are all outsourced.

How does McDonald's source their non-chicken products?

McDonald's may own and operate its own chicken farms, but the fast food chain sells a whole lot more than McNuggets. When it comes to external suppliers, McDonald's remains transparent about where various ingredients come from. According to the corporate McDonald's website, the famous french fries are sourced from potato farmers in Washington. While the corporate entity that is McDonald's may have grown to a massive scale, the company still trusts individuals and family-run farms to grow and source their russet potatoes. McDonald's sources much of their produce from small farms as well, such as Californian farmer Dirk Giannini for their lettuce, and Leo Dietrich & Sons apple orchard in Michigan. 

It's important for many consumers to know where exactly their food comes from. While not every contracted company is listed on the McDonald's website, former employees can confirm that the ingredients shipped to stores are clean and well-packaged. One Reddit user shared that during their time as an employee, they learned, "The produce is from farms with contracts, and the filet of fish is caught, processed, and boxed on the boats, and never gets above 40F until cooked." McDonald's may not have a reputation for serving up the most nutritionally dense food, but knowing where the ingredients are sourced and shipped can allow many concerned consumers to rest easy while enjoying a Big Mac.