Chipotle Mexican Grill has been on the rise in the fast food industry, known for serving “food with integrity.” The company was founded on the ideas of delicious food made from the best ingredients. After founder and CEO Steve Ells learned how meat and produce is mass produced in the US, sustainability, responsible farming and animal welfare were added to the Chipotle mission.
Many big name corporations say they are committed to serving local and ethically farmed food. Chipotle, on the other hand, actually is. The chain recently stopped selling pork, used as a key ingredient in a number of their dishes from burritos to salads. The meat was pulled from one-third of its locations, nearly 600 stores nationwide, when an audit of one of their suppliers revealed that their way of producing meat was not up to the standards set by the fast food chain.
“We could fill that shortfall with conventionally raised pork, but the animal welfare standards fall well short of our requirements, and (we) simply aren't willing to make that compromise,” said Chipotle Communications Director Chris Arnold, according to Reuters.
By pulling unethically produced pork from many of their stores, Chipotle stayed consistent with their brand as well as their ethical standards at the risk of losing customers and capital. It’s likely that customers will now have an even stronger loyalty to the brand thanks to their public dedication to the ethical treatment of animals. Had Chipotle continued to sell pork knowingly produced lower than these standards, it would have the potential to destroy not only the image of the company but it’s ever increasing position in the fast food market. Through their dedication to serving “food with integrity,” Chipotle was able to strengthen their brand and avoided a major PR crisis.
Chipotle has yet to release any official press releases and has not stated when they expect their pork products to be back.