What are the Ingredients in a McDonald's Supply Chain?

Each distribution center supplies 250 to 700 restaurants. The company tracks daily sales data, restaurant stock and even marketing promotions.

By University Alliance
McDonald's Supply Chain

Managing McDonald’s supply chain requires filling the needs of a corporation with 35,000 restaurants that serve 70 million customers a day in 100 countries along with meeting the company’s goal of never being out of an item a customer orders.

An effective supply chain management strategy is one reason the company evolved from its start in 1955 to a global institution. In addition to ensuring a staggering amount of items from beef to a restaurant’s operating supplies make it to each location, McDonald’s supply chain also must fill the company’s desire to customize menus according to preferences of local customers and source products locally.

McDonald’s supply chain ranked No. 2 in the 2013 Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 list. McDonald’s also ranked among Gartner’s top 10 in 2012 and 2011 and was No. 11 in 2010.

Serving Up a Successful Supply Chain Strategy

The company owns no factories or distribution centers so communication with suppliers is a necessity. The company constantly tracks everything from daily point-of-sale data for each item, restaurant stock levels and its marketing plans for promotional items or local menus to distribution center shipments and inventories. The company handles 16 major suppliers.

The operation requires knowing who is responsible for planning each task and carrying out those plans. The supply chain also needs to anticipate future demands and changes in sales volume.

McDonald’s Supply Chain Methodology

McDonald’s largest distributor, the Martin-Brower Company LLC, is tasked with delivering supplies to nearly all of the company’s 15,000 locations in North America. Each distribution center handles 250 to 700 restaurants, providing warehousing, transportation, and logistics services to each.

Most restaurants get two or three deliveries per week, with one delivery truck able to completely stock the establishment. Delivery times are coordinated to not interrupt breakfast or lunch service because customers may not pull in if they see the truck in the parking lot.

Drivers call in route to be sure the restaurant has workers there to take delivery when it arrives, reducing the time trucks are in the parking lot by up to 30%. The company also switched from roller and stand to delivery carts that move from the truck into the restaurant.

With its sprawling and complex supply chain, McDonald’s and Martin-Brower maintain plans to deal with disasters. Each summer, both companies plan for hurricanes and tornadoes and communicate emergency procedures.

Inventory is turned over every four days at a McDonald’s restaurant. The company can do this because of relationships they’ve formed with their suppliers, many of which still maintain the relationship that started with McDonald’s Corporation founder Ray Kroc. 

Learning the techniques of supply chain management such as planning, procurement and distribution  through courses offered in an advanced supply chain management certificate program can enhance a career development and open opportunities in the field.


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Category: Supply Chain Management