Fast Company has a brief little profile on Chipotle, focusing on the company founder’s strict policy of serving only humane and naturally-raised meat. The article notes that Chipotle has some trouble meeting its supply needs due to its strict requirements. However, it seems that Chipotle is a vector for change within the industry:
“We want to influence the supply chain in the United States,” he says — comes at a cost. It’s difficult to buy 52 million pounds of the good stuff. Humane providers tend to be small and are already at capacity. Ells recently began retaining small suppliers in Canada, increasing his shipping costs. Chipotle has to pay a premium for Ells’s passion, and so do his customers (the average burrito is now $6 to $7). “In an economic environment where the consumer is cautious about spending money,” analyst Haskell says, “we’re cautious about higher-cost concepts like this.”
Surprisingly, Chipotle’s answer may lie in the competition. Burger King and Wendy’s, the No. 2 and No. 5 U.S. chains, respectively, recently began to explore humane-pork options. Their needs will likely create more supply options. “Chipotle is a major vector of change in its industry,” says professor Rollin. Adds Wolf, the industry expert: “Restaurants at every level better hurry up and make sure there isn’t poison in their food.” He continues, “Chipotle makes great food and serves it. Genius!” Make better burritos, open more restaurants — what a concept.