McDonald’s Corp. spent nearly $136 million on Idaho agricultural commodities to supply its fast food restaurants during 2018, according to a recently released corporate report.
During the year, the Chicago-based fast-food giant purchased 271.285 million pounds of Idaho potatoes. McDonald’s also bought 58.3 million pounds of cheese, 14.9 million pounds of beef, 6.4 million pounds of sugar and 2.3 million pounds of onions from Idaho producers, according to the report.
“Each state has something to offer us,” said Lindsay Rainey, McDonald’s field brand reputation manager for the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains.
Rainey recounted the gentleman’s agreement McDonald’s CEO Ray Kroc made in the 1960s with J.R. Simplot to be the restaurant chain’s frozen fry supplier. Today, J.R. Simplot Co. remains the major supplier of McDonald’s fries and a central player in the Idaho agricultural economy. “The story with Simplot and Idaho is one we shouldn’t ignore — the handshake deal they had,” Rainey said.
Travis Blacker, industry relations director with the Idaho Potato Commission, who works from Idaho Falls, said his organization commissioned a study that concluded Idaho would be the best location for potato processing companies to build their next expansion or plant.