Tight beef supply may force Chipotle to change standards

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The fast-casual restaurant with food made with humanely-treated and environmentally-friendly ingredients may be forced to ease some of its beef requirements as beef supplies deplete.

The beef used by Chipotle in its Food With Integrity program requires that products from its suppliers meet the company’s naturally raised standards. The Chipotle website says the beef served by the chain was raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones.

With cattle numbers falling to a 60-year low, Chipotle is having a hard time purchasing beef meeting its requirements. Almost all of the beef used by the restaurant last year met its guidelines, however Bloomberg reports between 80 percent and 85 percent of the beef used by the burrito chain this year meet those same requirements.

Shrinking beef supplies are forcing the restaurant to reconsider its standards. Bloomberg reports Chipotle is considering lighter restrictions to allow beef from cattle treated with antibiotics to recover from an illness. The company would still reject beef from cattle given antibiotics to promote weight gain or prevent disease.

A release from Chipotle says the company's protocol allows the use of antibiotics to treat sick animals, but those animals are removed from Chipotle's food supply. The company is considering whether it should change its "never-ever" protocol, allowing treated animals to remain in the herd.

Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold says the company increases ingredient purchases by 20 to 25 percent every year to keep up with increasing sales. He told Businessweek the beef supply hasn’t been able to keep up with the company’s growth.

The company is considering alternative options, including purchasing from new suppliers andadding other cuts of beef.

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Wyo  |  August, 14, 2013 at 10:30 AM

What a sham. Advertising a certain type of beef and then not always serving that type. Of course we all know it is not the only advertising fraud going on in the business of selling beef. Speaking of selling/buying beef..........Chipotle would have you believe that there is just not enough of their type of beef available. WRONG.........they just do not want to pay the price to get it. Sometimes building your business on false pretenses comes back to haunt you.

Figure 50    
WA  |  August, 14, 2013 at 04:49 PM

AMEN Graybull

Ralph H.    
Oklahoma  |  August, 16, 2013 at 11:55 AM

Ho, hum. Just another set of self righteous elitist snobs moving the goalposts (good to know the goalposts conveniently move on both directions). Just standard sanctimonious foodie business as usual. Did get a chuckle out of this one though: "the company's protocol allows the use of antibiotics to treat sick animals, but those animals are removed from Chipotle's food supply". I guess effete Chipotle patrons value the effort to pass snubbed food down to the unwashed masses. How very charitable of those pompous foodie SOBs, eh?

Concerned Montanan    
59330  |  August, 16, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Wouldn't it be better to use meat from healthy livestock that had been given antibiotics and hormones "for weight gain and to PREVENT disease" rather than using meat from livestock that had been SICK and given antibiotics for that reason?

Florida  |  August, 16, 2013 at 12:42 PM

I eat at Chipolte ever now and then, NOT because of their snobbish left wing liberal beef purchases, but because I like the food. I MUST SAY however, that it has gone down hill from the first couple of times I ate there; Much smaller portions than before and now you get the impression that they are "weighing" each ingredient so that you don't get "too much". I guess the last time WILL be exactly that, the LAST TIME I eat there.

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