Chipotle Suspends Pork Sales at a Third of U.S. Restaurants

January 15, 2015 11:42 AM
Chipotle Suspends Pork Sales at a Third of U.S. Restaurants

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. halted pork sales at about one-third of its approximately 1,700 U.S. restaurants after discovering violations of its pig-housing policies at a supplier.


“This is fundamentally an animal-welfare decision and is rooted in our unwillingness to compromise our standards,” Chris Arnold, a spokesman for the Denver-based company, said in an e- mail, while declining to name the supplier. He said the violations were primarily related to Chipotle’s livestock- housing rules, which require that animals are raised with access to the outdoors or deeply bedded barns.

Chipotle is protecting its image as a socially responsible company, part of its appeal to younger customers who also seek healthier options and higher-quality ingredients. The restaurant operator has created short films to educate Americans about industrial farming and hosted festivals with organic snacks and local food and drink purveyors.

Pork sales have been cut off at about 560 U.S. restaurants. Chipotle is exploring options to boost its pork supply, including adding new providers and increasing output from its existing vendors, Arnold said. He added that replacing the lost supply will “take some time.”

The company won’t serve pork from conventional sources as it sorts out the supplier issue, Arnold said.


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“Conventionally raised pigs generally do not have access to the outdoors, spend their lives in densely crowded buildings, live on hard, slatted floors with no ability to root and are given antibiotics to keep them from getting sick,” Arnold said. “We would rather not serve pork at all than serve pork from animals raised in that way.”


Chipotle’s largest pork supplier, Niman Ranch, said it isn’t the vendor at issue. Niman is sending Chipotle about 20 percent more pork this week after the company called and asked for a bigger shipment, said Jeff Tripician, Niman’s chief marketing officer.

“They wanted more, but that’s the best we can do that quickly,” he said in a telephone interview.

Niman sources beef and pork from a network of 700 independent U.S. farms and sells Chipotle “significantly” more than 1 million pounds of pork a year, Tripician said. The Alameda, California-based company became Chipotle’s first “natural” pork supplier in 2001. It also sells beef and pork to Whole Foods Market Inc., Shake Shack Inc., Panera Bread Co. and Sprouts Farmers Market Inc., among others.

Since 2001, Chipotle has sourced 100 percent of its pork from producers who follow its guidelines, according to the company’s website.

Chipotle fell 0.6 percent to $709.74 at the close in New York. The stock was the best performer in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Restaurants Index last year, rising 28 percent.


To contact the reporter on this story: Craig Giammona in New York at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at Kevin Orland, John Lear


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Fairbury, NE
1/16/2015 09:31 AM

  I read with interest your article posted on ag-web concerning the lack of supply of pork from for its locations. Was interesting for me because i raised hogs marketed to Niman Ranch for 9 years, From my experience in raising hogs this way, maybe the question you should be asking is "why can't Niman Ranch get producers to raise hogs for them, and why the supply of hogs raised in this fashion are in low supply to meet demand. Farmers, and businesses in general, are famous for expanding if profits are to be found, in the products they are producing, and generally will overproduce to the point of where it is not as profitable. Meeting standards can be easy on a small hobby scale as a producer, but having a large enough operation to pay taxes, hire labor, make repairs, make a living, send kids to college, etc takes alot of work, management, and abundant labor, requires a decent profit,of which Niman has never been willing or able to provide for many producers, just enough to get you to keep trying, while dangling the carrot of future returns in front of you. If it weren't for Amish farmers selling weaned pigs that alot of the natural companies try to source, the supply would really be in trouble. I am guessing the source of pigs they dropped was Dubertuante in Canada, whom i always thought were confinement hogs, just raised antibiotic free. Brian Bauer