In the States, I never eat at McDonald’s. Here in Guatemala, it’s kind of my thing–and not because of the McNuggets, fries, or burgers. Instead, I stalk Mickey D’s for its McConos: the soft-serve ice cream that’s sold in a cone or a cup for just 3.50 quetzals (less than 50 cents). Unlike most ice cream I’ve had here, it’s creamy, smooth, and not icy in the least. I tried it once and was sold. And then returned five minutes later for another. What can I say? I’m easy.
And, as of earlier this week, also kind of impressed.
On Monday, McDonald’s announced that over the next five years, it plans to invest $6.5 million to help approximately 13,000 Guatemalan coffee farmers grow higher-quality, more environmentally sustainable beans. According to McDonald’s, the initiative seeks to address the root causes of poverty in farming communities by expanding the use of techniques that promote sustainable, profitable agricultural. It’s also going to try to help mitigate the effects of leaf rust, a fungal disease that’s currently threatening coffee crops throughout Central America.
Of course, this initiative benefits McDonald’s, too. Per Bloomberg.com, the move will help the company secure supplies of arabica beans for its premium-roast coffee, for which sales have doubled since 2006. Plus, it’s just smart marketing to be able to label anything “environmentally sustainable.” And yes, we could have a whole discussion about wealth distribution (I doubt any Guatemalan coffee farmers will be upgrading to McMansions when all is said and done), but still. I think it’s pretty great when it makes smart business sense for a big brand to do good.
So, hats off to McDonald’s (and the many farmers with whom it works). I’ll be sure to support its efforts by buying many premium-roast coffees–and, well, since I’ll already be at the register and all… quite a few McConos, too.