Chipotle may have found the answer to its carnitas shortage.
According to CNN Money, Karro Food of the UK will be coming to the wildly popular fast casual restaurant’s rescue.
This may come as a surprise to those who expected Chipotle to use a domestic food supplier, but it was more important for the chain to have high-quality pork rather than local pork to replenish its shortage.
“It has always been our preference to get our pork (and other meats) from domestic suppliers, but right now the supply simply isn’t available,” a Chipotle spokesperson explained to CNN Money, adding that, “upwards of 95% of pork produced in this country is conventionally raised, so the available supply that meets our high standards is relatively small.”
Chipotle’s carnitas crisis began this past January, when a pork supplier was suspended for violating the company’s standards. The pigs were being raised conventionally rather than responsibly.
“Conventionally raised pigs generally do not have access to the outdoors, spend their lives in densely crowded buildings, live on hard slatted floors with no bedding and no ability to root, and are given antibiotics to keep them from getting sick,” Chris Arnold, a spokesperson for Chipotle, explained to Business Insider. “We would rather not serve pork at all, than serve pork from animals that are raised in this way.”
The AP noted that this transgression resulted in hundreds of Chipotle restaurants eliminating carnitas from their menus. While chicken remains Chipotle’s most popular protein, carnitas still accounted for 6-7% of the restaurant’s orders, according to the AP.
One of Chipotle’s food suppliers, Niman Ranch, stepped in to help out in January by dipping into its pork reserves, but it didn’t seem like it would entirely solve the problem.
In April, Steve Ells, Chipotle’s CEO and founder, told Business Insider there was “very little supply cushion” for pork that met Chipotle’s standards, and that the shortage would likely go on until the end of the year.
That remains true; CNN notes that with the implementation of Karro Food as a supplier, the shortage should be replenished by the end of the year.
Chipotle is known for its notoriously high standards. The company prides itself on serving “food with integrity.” The chain stripped GMOs entirely from its menu this spring.
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