Chipotle’s strict food standards could stand in the way of its expansion plans in the US, Bloomberg reports.
The burrito chain wants to open as many as 200 restaurants this year, bringing its total number of locations to nearly 2,000.
But Chipotle is already facing a pork shortage in its restaurants that are open today, due to the company’s strict standards for how animals should be raised and fed.
The pork shortage began in January after the company cut ties with a supplier that violated its standards, which ban the use of hormones or antibiotics and require that pigs have access to the outdoors and to deeply bedded barns.
Since dropping the questionable supplier, Chipotle has had trouble finding replacements that meet its guidelines.
As a result, hundreds of restaurants have been unable to serve Carnitas — the braised pork shoulder that’s a staple of Chipotle’s menu — for the last three months.
As Chipotle expands, that problem will only worsen, according to Bloomberg. It could even extend to other menu ingredients.
“The company is a victim of its own growth and ingredient guidelines, which prevent it from using most of the nation’s fast-food suppliers,” writes Bloomberg’s Craig Giammona and Shruti Date Singh.
The company may have to curtail its expansion as a result, according to one analyst.
“The company may be forced to slow its store growth if it can’t evolve new relationships with ‘sustainable’ suppliers quickly enough,” Motley Fool analyst Asit Sharma told Bloomberg.
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