Chipotle 'beefs up' naturally raised beef supply

by Bryan Salvage
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DENVER – All of the beef Chipotle Mexican Grill uses in its barbacoa, a spicy shredded beef, is now naturally raised, bringing its total of naturally raised beef to nearly 23 million lbs., including both steak and barbacoa. The move solidifies Chipotle as the largest restaurant seller of naturally raised meat and underscores its commitment to serving “Food with Integrity,” according to the company.

Chipotle expects to serve more than 75 million lbs. of naturally raised meat in 2010, including all of its pork, more than 80% of its chicken, and 85% of its beef. All of its naturally raised meat comes from animals that are raised in a humane way, never given antibiotics or added hormones, and fed a vegetarian diet.

“When we started serving pork from naturally raised pigs more than a decade ago, we did it because we thought it was a better way to raise animals and it produced better tasting food,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-chief executive officer of Chipotle. “That gave rise to our commitment to find better, more sustainable sources for all of the ingredients we use. We call this commitment ‘Food with Integrity’ and it is one of the ways we are changing the way people think about and eat fast food.

“We are teaching our customers about the tastes and benefits of eating fresh, naturally raised foods, and the more they come to appreciate that, the more they are going to want them from others,” Mr. Ells said. “It is certainly challenging to find better ingredients from more sustainable sources, but we believe it’s the right thing to do and will continue to lead the industry in serving food made with these better ingredients.”

Chipotle had been serving naturally raised chicken in all of its restaurants but can no longer get enough chicken to meet its growing demand. The company hopes to be back to 100% naturally raised chicken by the end of the year.
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