Chipotle's carnitas shortage reveals a major problem with the business

It’s been six months since Chipotle stopped serving pork at hundreds of its restaurants.

The company said in an earnings conference call that 40% of its restaurants still don’t serve carnitas. 

The Mexican-food company, which promises to serve “food with integrity,” suspected its carnitas supplier wasn’t raising the pigs humanely enough. 

The incident shows Chipotle is sticking to its values. 

But the pork shortage is also “a bad sign” for the company’s future, writes Roberto Ferdman at The Washington Post.

Chipotle’s incredible growth is proof that people will pay more for sustainably raised food without hormones. 

“But the company’s success has also been a lesson in how hard it is to scale the entirety of a business like Chipotle,” Ferdman writes

The company has dealt with meat shortages before. 

Chipotle carnitas map americaChipotleThis Chipotle map shows which states have carnitas in restaurants.

Last year, Chipotle began serving “conventionally raised” steak in response to a global beef shortage.

The company said this wasn’t an option for pork, which is raised less humanely. 

“We would rather not serve pork at all, than serve pork from animals that are raised in this way,” company spokesman Chris Arnold told The Post.

Chipotle is very successful, and it plans to grow even larger in the coming years. 

But the pork and beef shortages show how difficult it will be to expand the business while standing by its ideals.
Chipotle acknowledged the challenges ahead in a statement to Business Insider in January:
“We have always known that there would be challenges with our efforts to serve food from better, more sustainable sources. And we’ve always been willing to pursue that path in spite of those challenges.

The issue we have seen this week with pork is anomalous in that it was the product of leaning that a supplier wasn’t meeting all of the terms of our protocols and we suspended that supplier. There is very little slack in our pork supply, so losing one of our key suppliers makes it difficult to get all of the pork we need. But we will rebuild that supply, and are looking at a number of options to do that (additional supply from existing suppliers, using additional cuts of pork, and considering new suppliers). 

We have always acknowledged that there are challenges in going the direction we have chosen, and we have never professed to being perfect, only to working constantly to get better.”


Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.