“For agriculture, it’s going to be important that they continue to educate people about their processes so that consumers become more and more comfortable about the food they’re eating today,” Debbie Roberts, vice president and general manager of McDonald’s Midwest Region.

Speaking at the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th annual convention, Roberts also told attendees that McDonald’s will present an ad campaign in 2012 that will feature farmers and growers that supply the products. “We will bring to the consumer, the folks who are actually producing the product,” Roberts says. “They will have the opportunity to meet those folks, see them on TV…put the face with the product.”

She points out that consumers have become increasingly savvy, and they want to know more about the source of their food. “For us to be relevant as a brand, we constantly talk with consumers, and we listen,” Roberts adds. “That’s been the success of McDonald’s; to make sure we have a brand that responds to consumers.”

Some of the things that today’s consumers are telling McDonald’s is that their palates are varied and the growing diversity within the United States require continuous change. “It’s hard to predict where customers will go. You have to be ready to change with them,” she says. “Consumers will continue to be more complex.”

Another trend that she sees for the long haul is the demand for high-quality products. Along those lines, she says consumers will demand high standards associated with the sourcing of their foods.  

“We rely heavily on the quality products of our farmers and growers to provide the best quality product to our consumers,” Roberts says.  

In terms of relying on U.S. agriculture, she says both Roberts and McDonald’s see it as a key link to feeding the world. “As the world’s population continues to grow, agriculture will continue to be more important,” she adds.