Chipotle's Ells Testifies Before House Committee in Support of "Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act"
Pursuit of Ingredients from More Sustainable Sources Has "Transformed the Way We Run Our Business"
DENVER --(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) (NYSE: CMG.B) Founder, Chairman and Co-CEO Steve Ells testified today before the House Rules Committee in support of H.R. 1549, the "Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) of 2009." In his testimony, Ells discussed Chipotle's commitment to serving food from more sustainable sources, including meat from animals that are not given antibiotics.
"When I founded Chipotle 16 years ago, I had what was a novel idea at the time. I wanted to show that food that was served fast didn't have to be a typical fast food experience," Ells said in his statement to the committee. "Now, we are changing the way the world thinks about and eats fast food. We are doing this by serving food made with ingredients from more sustainable sources.
"This move transformed the way we run our business, giving rise to a vision we call Food with Integrity. It set us on a journey to examine each of the ingredients we use to make our food, and how we could get them from more sustainable sources. We have made considerable progress over the last decade."
Chipotle's progress in establishing a more sustainable supply chain is evident in its use of naturally raised meat (from animals that are raised in a humane way, never given antibiotics or added hormones, and fed a pure vegetarian diet with no animal byproducts). This year, Chipotle will serve more than 60 million pounds of naturally raised meat – more than any other restaurant company – including all of its pork and chicken, and more than 60 percent of its beef. The chain also serves an increasing amount of organic and local produce, and dairy products made with milk from cows that are never given the synthetic hormone rBGH.
"The crowding and contamination associated with this artificial living environment fosters disease," Ells said of large-scale confinement hog operations. "So the pigs are fed some 10 million pounds of antibiotics – an amount that is three times greater than all antibiotics used to treat human illness. I did not want Chipotle's success to be tied to this kind of exploitation."
Ells concedes that Chipotle's business model is not easily replicated by other restaurant companies as the supply of ingredients from more sustainable sources is limited, and the costs tend to be higher for buyers of these better ingredients.
"Chipotle is a unique success story in that we have found a way to serve more expensive, sustainably raised ingredients, but in a way that remains affordable to the average customer. At the same time, we are able to produce attractive financial results for our shareholders," he explained. "This is a difficult balance to strike."
In urging House members to give PAMTA the consideration it warrants, Ells said the bill "is an important step in driving the kind of change we have chosen to work toward for the last decade, but that too many others have ignored."
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.
Source: Chipotle Mexican Grill