Supply Chain Catching up with Changing Consumer Tastes

Restaurants are promising to raise the bar on ingredients as consumers demand fresher, local and organic food

Nation’s Restaurant News

Sept. 23, 2015—When Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. was forced to go without pork in some restaurants this year, some saw it as a clear sign that America’s food suppliers are not keeping up with the pace of change.

Chipotle, with its emphasis on meat raised without hormones or antibiotics, suspended a supplier that was not meeting the chain’s animal welfare standards. No other source was immediately available and the chain took a hit in sales by refusing to compromise by serving conventionally raised pork in the interim.

Indeed, the Denver-based, fast-casual chain eventually had to go to the UK to find a pork supplier that would fill the gap, and carnitas is expected to be back on the menu system-wide by the fourth quarter.

Steve Ells, Chipotle’s co-CEO, said the chain would prefer to source domestically, but “the quantity of pork that meets our standards is simply not available right now from domestic suppliers as the vast majority of pork raised in the United States, more than 95 percent, based on our estimates, is not raised to our standards.”

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