Chipotle Suspends Purchases from Major Pork Supplier

If you would like a pork burrito from Chipotle anytime soon, you just might be out of luck. Last Tuesday, the popular franchise announced that it had temporarily stopped serving pork at approximately one-third of its 1,700 restaurants. What’s the reason behind the pork shortage? Chipotle evidently suspended purchases from one of its major pork suppliers, as the supplier had failed to meet Chipotle’s strict animal welfare standards.

“This is fundamentally an animal welfare decision, and is rooted in our unwillingness to compromise our standards where animal welfare is concerned,” said Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold.

Fast Food Franchises & Meat Suppliers: A Troubled History

This certainly isn’t the first time an animal welfare scandal has rocked the food franchise industry. A Domino’s supplier was found to be brutally abusing cows at a New Mexico dairy farm, while a Chinese meat supplier that supplied meat to major brands like McDonald’s, Yum Brands, Starbucks, and Burger King was found to be selling expired meat. All in all, many contend that supplier scandals are far too common in the industry.

However, Chipotle is known for its emphasis on responsibly raised meat. It requires that all pigs be raised with outdoor access or deep-bedded pens, a much higher standard than the majority of other franchises in the food industry employ. Furthermore, it requires all animals to be raised without the use of antibiotics. Many Chipotle consumers appreciate the company’s emphasis on such ethically sound farming practices. Should its image of environmental consciousness and concern for animal welfare be damaged, it could potentially taint its reputation and cut into profits. Luckily, it was a Chipotle audit that revealed the troublesome practices of the supplier, as opposed to a journalist or activist, which would have likely generated a PR nightmare for the company.

When Will Pork Be Back on the Menu?

Customers across the country are wondering when pork will be back at the menu at all Chipotle locations. While there is no definitive answer to that question, the company is actively working to address the situation. Chipotle may work to find new pork suppliers, or, alternatively, it could also use additional cuts of meat or purchase more pork from existing suppliers.

The company also said that if the supplier were to address the issue, Chipotle would resume pork purchases. “We believe that these are good people who are trying to do the right thing, and if they bring their protocols into [compliance] with our standards, we’d certainly consider having them back as part of our supply network,” Arnold said.



Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.