Denver, (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) (NYSE:CMG.B), will expand its local produce program this summer, purchasing at least 35 percent of at least one bulk produce item in all of its restaurants from local farmers when it is seasonally available. This represents a 10 percent increase over last year's program, the first of its kind for any national restaurant chain.
Under its local produce program, Chipotle expects to have more than 25 local farms in its network that will supply some of the romaine lettuce, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, red onions and/or oregano served at the 860-plus Chipotle restaurants nationwide.
"Our commitment to cooking and preparing food with more sustainable ingredients has always been about doing the right thing; the right thing for better tasting food, the right thing for the environment, and the right thing for farmers," said Steve Ells, founder, chairman, and co-CEO of Chipotle. "Many consumers are just now starting to understand where their food comes from and how it's raised, but we have known for a long time that there are many benefits to food that is raised right."
According to a survey commissioned by Chipotle and conducted by Harris Interactive(R), consumers say that sourcing their food locally is becoming increasingly important for them; half of adults (51%) say that it is important for restaurants and markets in their local area to purchase produce and other ingredients from local farms in their area. Additionally, a majority of adults (52%) are likely to dine at restaurants that purchase produce from farms in their local area.
"Chipotle is helping to create an obvious demand for local and more sustainably raised food," said Bill Niman, a pioneer in the sustainable food movement and a sustainable agriculture advisor for Chipotle. "We hope that by getting more people to eat food that was grown in essentially their back yard, we will help generate more interest in eating locally."
In addition to its commitment to serving locally grown produce, Chipotle serves more naturally raised meat (from animals that are raised in a humane way, never given antibiotics or added hormones, and fed a pure vegetarian diet) than any restaurant in the world. This year, about 35 percent of all of its beans will be organically grown, and all of the dairy (cheese and sour cream) it serves is made with milk from cows that are never given the synthetic hormone rBGH.
"Our commitment to using ingredients from more sustainable sources is the best of both worlds," said Ells. "From a sustainability perspective, we are supporting local agriculture and family owned farms. From a culinary perspective, we are using the very finest seasonal ingredients available, and hopefully creating even more demand for locally grown food. It's one of the ways we are changing the way the world thinks about and eats fast food."
Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO, started Chipotle with the idea that food served fast did not have to be a typical fast food experience. Today, Chipotle continues to offer a focused menu of burritos, tacos, burrito bowls (a burrito without the tortilla) and salads made from fresh, high-quality raw ingredients, prepared using classic cooking methods and served in a distinctive atmosphere. Through our vision of Food With Integrity, Chipotle is seeking better food not only from using fresh ingredients, but ingredients that are sustainably grown and naturally raised with respect for the animals, the land, and the farmers who produce the food. Chipotle opened its first restaurant in 1993 and currently operates more than 860 restaurants.
The Local Farms survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Chipotle between March 31 - April 2, 2009 among 2,377 adults ages 18+. Results were weighted as needed to reflect the composition of the U.S. population of adults ages 18+ using targets for region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity, and propensity to be online. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
SOURCE: Chipotle Mexican Grill