|Chris Arnold, communications director at Chipotle|
“The quinoa is made with red and gold quinoa tossed with a little citrus juice, cumin and freshly chopped cilantro,” Chris Arnold, communications director at Chipotle, told Business Insider. “We are recommending that it be added to a salad, or in place of rice in another entree.”
Earlier this month during a conference call to discuss fourth-quarter results, M. Steven Ells, founder, chairman and outgoing CEO of Chipotle, said the company would continue to look at ways to improve its menu.
|Steven Ells, founder, chairman and CEO of Chipotle|
“I think the next team’s biggest opportunity is to always look at our core menu and make sure that we’re cooking better food,” Ells said. “We’re sourcing better food. We have better ingredients. We’re improving our preparation techniques, our cooking techniques, our serving techniques. It’s what drove our business for the first couple of decades, taking a core group of menu items and continually improving them, not only through Food with Integrity but through a better restaurant execution. So that’s a priority.”
But improving the menu is not without its challenges, Ells said. Turnaround efforts have been met with tepid response at the restaurant chain. Introductions of chorizo and queso have failed to deliver on expectations. During the Feb. 6 conference call with analysts, Ells elaborated on the challenges of adding new menu items at a company like Chipotle.
Quinoa is a “pseudo-cereal,” or a food that is cooked and eaten like grains and has a similar nutrient pro?le, according to the Whole Grains Council, Boston. The Incas in South America considered quinoa to be the “mother of all grains.”
Quinoa has been garnering interest in mainstream outlets for several years. US retail sales of products featuring quinoa increased at an average annual growth rate of 72 percent from 2012-16, going to $552.9 million in 2016 from $69.3 million in 2012, according to Nielsen Scantrack data. The top-selling items in 2016 were snack bars ($113.6 million), bagged/box quinoa ($79.6 million) and ready-to-eat cereal ($69.7 million).