DENVER (BUSINESS WIRE) - Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) today announced that it is expanding even further its locally grown produce program. The company began serving produce from local farms in all of its restaurants two years ago, and remains the only national restaurant chain with a significant commitment to serving locally grown produce. Chipotle's use of locally grown produce and other premium quality ingredients from more sustainable sources is part of a philosophy the company calls "Food with Integrity."
Chipotle is working with some 50 local, family-owned farms to provide romaine lettuce, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, red onions, oregano, and tomatoes to restaurant locations around the country. In California, the company also sources locally grown lemons and avocados. The produce generally comes from within about 250 miles of Chipotle's distribution centers, with nearly 70 percent coming from within 150 miles, and one-third of the produce arriving from within 50 miles. On average, produce eaten in America travels some 1,500 miles from where it is grown to where it is consumed.
"Our commitment to serving produce from local farms and other sustainable sources is one of the ways we are changing the way people think about and eat fast food," said Steve Ells, founder, chairman, and co-CEO of Chipotle. "Fresh produce from local farms not only has environmental benefits and supports farming communities around the country, it also tastes better. Great tasting food made with local, more sustainably raised ingredients should be available to everyone."
Chipotle began its locally grown produce program in 2008, committing to serve 25% of at least one produce item in each of its markets when seasonally available, and increased that commitment to 35% in 2009. For 2010, the company will raise its local produce goal to 50%. With that, Chipotle will serve about 5 million pounds of produce from local farms this year.
"Our relationship with Chipotle is a true partnership, and a great way for us to toot our own horn in Apple Valley," said Gary Pahl of Pahl Farms in Apple Valley, Minn. "Not only does Chipotle do a great job finding family farms to partner with, but also of letting their managers know where the ingredients come from regionally. When I go to the Chipotle near our farm, they tell me my peppers taste great, and ask questions about our farm and the produce we grow. It's a great commitment and one that separates Chipotle from other chain restaurants."
Beyond its use of local produce, Chipotle also serves more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant in the world, an increasing percentage of organically grown beans (40% in 2010), and all of its cheese and sour cream is made with milk from cows that are never given the synthetic hormone rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone).
"Serving food made with locally grown produce and other sustainably raised ingredients is challenging," said Ells. "But we have committed to pushing ourselves to find the best sources we can for every ingredient we use and hope that others will follow our lead. The more consumers understand the benefits of eating food from more sustainable sources, the more they're going to want it from everyone."
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 nearly 1,000 restaurants.
SOURCE: Chipotle Mexican Grill