After a series of efforts to serve only foods that are sustainably produced by local farmers, Chipotle recently announced that it would remove any genetically modified ingredients from its menus. That includes its tacos, tortillas, burritos, chips, salsa, rice-based foods and even the marinades used to make meat tender and tastier.
Steve Ells, Chipotle Mexican Grill’s chief executive, said that the restaurant planned to prove the industry and its customers that there was a better way to run a fast-food business. CEO Ells acknowledged that although other food-chains deem GMOs harmless everyone would rather not have them on their plate.
Yet, offering only GMO-free products to their customers was not an easy task. Instead, it was a lengthy process which was promoted through awareness-raising campaigns. The restaurant had to wait nearly a couple of years for the newly-planted organic crops to be finally harvested. The chain first announced that it planned on switching to GMO-free foods in 2013.
However, the process was gradual. The fast-food chain first dropped non-GMO corn from the menus in all its locations, then replaced genetically modified soybean oil with sun-flower and rice bran oils, which contain no GMOs.
Nevertheless, the meat it uses may still contain GMO residue since chickens and pigs were GMO-fed. On the other hand, its beef is safe because cattle were raised in the open field with organic feed.
Chipotle is the first fast food restaurant chain in the U.S. to commit so deeply into the GMO-free cause. And this may boost its sales since many fast food consumers are concerned about the quality of the food they eat or offer to their children.
While the GMO industry claims that GMOs are harmless, opponents maninly worry over the tons of pesticides used on genetically modified crops. According to the USDA’s reports, about 80 percent of food commercialized in the U.S. was genetically modified.
Ells also said that the new move would contribute even more to the assertion of Chipotle’s uniqueness on the fast food market. Another particularity of the restaurant is linked to its “classical” cooking techniques, Ells explained.
Chipotle has been always looking for ways to distance itself from its competitors, and the public liked it. McDonalds was reluctant to make its food healthier. As a result, its sales continue to sink, while Chipotle is listed as the U.S. restaurant chain with the fastest growth rate in the country.
Over the past five years, it nearly doubled its number of locations, while its stock market value rose by 350 percent. McDonalds only saw a 38 percent gain over the same time.
On the other hand, Chipotle’s sales slowed down early this year as the chain removed the public’s favorite pork carnitas from the menus of nearly 500 restaurants due to supply issues. According to the company, its pork suppliers failed to comply with the restaurant’s health standards.
As a result, the 500 restaurants lost some customers, but the execs hope that the things will return to normal as carnitas are back on the menus.
Although Chipotle announced last month a 4 percent to 6 percent price rise for its barbacoa and steaks later this year, GMO-free foods’ prices will remain the same.
Image Source: Chipotle