Chipotle and its quest for sustainable food


Chipotle opened its first store in 1993 and has seen astonishing growth and financial success since going public in 2006. Chipotle has been one of the industry’s leaders in serving and promoting sustainable food. Its high-quality natural food has given it a competitive advantage over competitors in a market that is increasingly becoming more conscious about what they eat. Chipotle has a mission of serving “Food with Integrity” to its customers. Chipotle is committed to finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for animals, the environment, and farmers. Chipotle brands its meats as naturally, or “Responsibly“ raised, which entails treating animals humanely without the use of antibiotics or added hormones. Many of its other ingredients are organic and do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Chipotle has been considered a pioneer in creating and promoting sustainable food chains. Despite its measured success in its food sourcing, Chipotle has been unethical within some of the social aspects of the supply chain, most notably its policies towards its employees. Chipotle has had problems with its hiring process as it is still being investigated over hiring illegal and undocumented workers. They also have several pending class action lawsuits from employees who are systematically unpaid for overtime hours as a result of Chipotle’s policies and practices. Chipotle needs to address these policies in order to have a sustainable food chain, which not only involves the food it serves, but the people serving it. Chipotle has an opportunity to change the industry to become more sustainable. Chipotle raises awareness about the problems within the food industry through advertisement campaigns. These advertisements can help change consumer behaviors to demand more sustainable foods, which will in turn force other restaurants to provide sustainable foods in order to meet this demand. Chipotle and sustainable suppliers can also use their relative competitive advantage to further influence competitors to become sustainable. This will create a market in which more sustainable suppliers are available, which will drive food prices down and quality standards higher. This will create a cycle in which sustainable food chains take over the existing marketplace.

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