Burger King Corp. will look for suppliers and open new restaurants in rural America under an agreement signed Monday with the Agriculture Department.
Under the agreement, the department's Rural Business-Cooperative Service will consider guaranteeing development loans for would-be suppliers and franchise holders. Guarantees would come from a program with $700-million available this year.
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman called the agreement an example of public-private partnerships sought by the administration. Burger King said the agreement will help the expanding fast-food chain locate suppliers closer to its restaurants.
Among potential suppliers are Diversity Food Processing, a new black-owned meat company in Petersburg, Va.
Miami-based Burger King, owned by Grand Metropolitan PLC, bought $2.3-billion worth of food, equipment and supplies last year through Restaurant Services Inc., Burger King's purchasing arm.
Under the agreement announced Monday, Restaurant Services also will work with Second Harvest, a Chicago-based food bank network, to find products that can be given to food banks and other charities in rural America.