David and Helen Brass from the Lakes Free Range Egg Company (The Lakes) were at the Highland Show, supporting McDonald’s UK who launched ‘Follow our Foodsteps’ – a pioneering interactive visitor experience which focuses on the McDonald’s UK food chain story. ‘The Lakes and their hens play a key role in the new food chain experience.

McDonalds VR roadshowFollow our Footsteps is McDonald’s UK nationwide campaign to champion British and Irish farming, telling their UK food story through the eyes of the people who grow, produce and prepare food for the UK menu.

Challenging technology developers and working in coalition with suppliers, partners and food experts, the result is an experience that gives the public a realistic glimpse of how the food on the McDonald’s UK menu is made and where it comes from. Visitors are transported behind the scenes to some of McDonald’s UK’s flagship farms, factories and restaurants – without having to take a step.

The Lakes Free Range Egg Company is one of McDonald’s Flagship farms, supplying them with free range eggs for many years. The film crew spent several days at ‘The Lakes’ filming hens in their natural environment to help tell the story and create a realistic experience. The Highland Show was an opportunity for David and Helen to see first-hand how the public reacted to the ground-breaking technology and the experience of walking with hens.

David Brass tests the VRDavid Brass, Chief Executive Officer at ‘The Lakes’ said “I know from first-hand experience that that food producers in the UK have a passion for what they do, and the standards we set are very high, but we need more people to get involved and skilled at every level. Follow our Foodsteps is part of McDonald’s Farm Forward – a long term commitment to addressing challenges faced by our sector. This unique glimpse into how food is produced, processed and prepared for restaurants should inspire some of our next generation to ask more questions and get involved in the food production industry.
“From what we saw at the Highland Show this week, people really want to know more about where their food comes from and we have met some who have shown interest in that ‘next step’ – a connection to a career with food production. ”

Connor McVeigh, Director of Supply Chain, McDonald’s UK, said: “As a nation, we have never been more food-focussed. The eating out market is growing but this passion for food is masking a lack of understanding around how food is produced and the vital role our farming and food industries play in growing, sourcing and producing quality ingredients. As one of the biggest customers of British and Irish farming, we want to lift the lid on the passion and skills that exist at every stage of the process, from farm to front-counter. Over the last decade we have invited people behind the scenes of our own supply chain on a number of occasions but we wanted to take this even further.”

Environment Secretary of State, Elizabeth Truss said: “McDonald’s is a fantastic example of the vision, creativity and innovation running through our food and farming industry today. As a nation we are now far more plugged into where our food comes from. Projects like this that link field to fork, or in this case fingers, not only supports our farmers but educates our children too.

“With 3.8 million people employed in the food chain it is vital for our economic future that we make British food and farming all it can be. By embracing the latest technology we will foster the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

The state-of-the-art, custom built truck began its UK tour at Balmoral Show and will travel the length of the country. It includes a virtual reality challenge where users test their skills behind a tractor during potato harvest, a 360 degree immersive video visit to an organic dairy farm and the Lakes Free Range Egg Company. It is followed by a cinema experience, with a McDonald’s Crew eye view of taking an order and preparing food. And finally, a Guess my Job’ food and farming skills challenge.

According to the Food and Drink Federation, there is a need to attract 109,000 new recruits into the food industry by 2022 as the UK population is projected to rise by 4.4 million in the next decade.