Chipotle Mexican Grill is sourcing millions of pounds of beans that are in transition to organic production as well as transitional rice to use as ingredients in the foods served in its restaurants. These are in addition to the organic beans and rice the company already uses in its foods. Chipotle also recently became the only national restaurant brand with no added colors, flavors or preservatives in any of the ingredients it uses to prepare its food.
In 2015, Chipotle reported sourcing 4 million pounds of organic black beans and 2.2 million pounds of organic pinto beans. While those numbers dropped to 1.8 and 1 million pounds respectively in 2016, Chipotle is now sourcing 9 million pounds of transitional black beans and 3.6 million pounds of transitional pinto beans.
Chipotle is also buying transitional rice, according to Steve McKaskle, an organic rice farmer in Missouri who has been selling organic rice to Chipotle for several years.
“I convinced them to buy transitional rice. As far as I know, the Chipotle restaurants in St. Louis are using transitional rice,” McKaskle says.
McKaskle supplies organic rice to 59 Chipotle restaurants in Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee, which is up from 20 in 2015.
He is also helping several farmers transition to organic rice production.
“We are paying the farmers $7.50 per bushel for transitional rice while conventional rice is $3.80 per bushel,” he says. “The buyer pays a price that is less than organic, and they can promote that they are helping more farmers become organic. It’s a win-win situation.”
Chipotle also uses local and organically grown produce when available. Nearly three-quarters, 72 percent, of the cilantro used by Chipotle in 2016 was organic.
Two years ago, Chipotle began working to eliminate unnecessary additives and preservatives from the tortillas it uses to make burritos, tacos, and chips. The new tortillas are now served in all the company’s U.S. restaurants. The new recipes for corn and flour tortillas now contain between two and five ingredients. For example, the new flour tortillas are made using only flour, water, canola oil, salt, and yeast. The corn tortillas used for the chips are made only with corn masa flour and water.
In 2015, Chipotle completed its transition to all non-GMO ingredients in its foods.