Gary Johnson - 2009 Seafood Champion
Gary Johnson is the Senior Director of Worldwide Supply Chain Management for the multi-national McDonald's Corporation. Recognizing over a decade ago that McDonald’s would face challenges in assuring itself of a stable supply of whitefish, he created McDonald's Global Fish Forum in 2001, bringing suppliers together to assess global whitefish sources.
In 2002, Johnson led efforts to develop a sustainability standard for McDonald's fish sourcing that is still used by the company today. Working with their suppliers under Johnson’s leadership, McDonald’s has fostered improvements in several key whitefish fisheries, including the reduction of illegal fishing of Barents Sea cod, and has shifted sourcing of roughly 20,000 metric tons of whitefish to better managed supplies, such as the BeringSea/Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska pollock fisheries. These fisheries have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as models for sustainable fisheries management.
McDonald’s has a working relationship with both Conservation International and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership to define sustainability standards for the fisheries in its supply chain and to audit against them. The program has become a model for the McDonald’s, as it was created and executed in partnership with the company’s suppliers, is proactive in the industry, and—most importantly—is working, reducing illegal fishing and helping unsustainable fisheries to improve. Where the fisheries are not being improved quickly enough, Johnson and McDonald’s have moved their purchases elsewhere.
Seafood Choices Alliance: Why did you make the switch to sustainably sourced seafood?
Gary Johnson: This has been a journey based on having assured supply of sustainable fish to our restaurants not only for today and tomorrow but into the future as well. Having assured supply is critical to our supply chain and having a sustainable supply is critical to assured supply. It's also the right thing to do.
What programs have you initiated in the past and what practices do you currently engage in to address environmental issues that are often associated with the sourcing of seafood?
We ensure the sustainability of our products based on a number of guidelines, including the specific fisheries management quality, fish stock status, and marine biodiversity. An assessment is done annually and reviewed with our global fish board and fish suppliers for alignment. We also recognize that sustainability is all about continuous improvement. We will continually review where improvements can be made and work diligently to implement appropriate changes.
Does your commitment to sustainability limit what you can offer?
Sourcing our fish from sustainable resources doesn't limit our ability to serve high quality, consistent products but it does limit where we can source our fish from. By collaborating with our fish suppliers, our environmental partners CI (Conservation International) and now SFP (Sustainable Fisheries Partnership), and the respective fishing industries, we have been able to reach our goal of having a sustainable fish supply all around the world where we serve high quality fish to our customers.
What does being a Seafood Champion mean to you?
The Seafood Champion award not only recognizes the work that I have accomplished on fish sustainability over the past 6 years but also the great work done by all of the McDonald's global fish board members, our global fish suppliers and the importance McDonald's places around sustainability. I am proud of the work McDonald's and our partners have done in this area, and I am humbled to accept this award.
I do want to personally recognize the McDonald's Global Fish board. This is an advisory panel of McDonald's supply chain fish experts that help develop our global fish strategy, including the sourcing of sustainable fish.
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