Fast Food/Quick Service Restaurants

For the McCain empire, built on potatoes, climate change is serious business

As a closely held company, McCain Foods Ltd. is under no obligation to be chatty. And it isn’t. The world’s biggest seller of frozen french fries has issued only eight press releases this year. When your name is on display in grocery freezers in 160 countries, you don’t need to beg for publicity.

This week, the climate crisis prompted one of Canada’s most important companies to get over its shyness.

On Sept. 23, McCain announced that it had joined a coalition of food companies that is “determined to take bold action to protect and restore cultivated and natural biodiversity within their value chains.”

Two days later, the Toronto-based company said it will be spending an undisclosed amount of money on “dedicated commercial farms” that will attempt an agricultural moonshot: growing potatoes at industrial scale without degrading the environment.

The McCain announcements were timed to coincide with the latest United Nations Climate Action Summit, which triggered a new wave of dire warnings of ecological doom from expert panels, and pushback from expert contrarians.

Denialism appears to have been snuffed out of mainstream debate, but there is a core in the academy that doubts the costs associated with a warmer planet justify the pain that will come from trying to cool it.

Read the full report in the Financial Post here