Chipotle expands local produce

06/24/2013 05:18:00 PM
Mike Hornick

Chipotle Mexican Grill plans to serve more than 15 million pounds of locally grown produce in 2013, up from last year’s target of 10 million.

Denver-based Chipotle will source bell peppers, romaine lettuce, red onions, jalapenos and oregano from a group of 70 farms, according to a news release. Tomatoes are also served in Florida outlets; California also has tomatoes, lemons and avocados.

The restaurant chain defines local produce as grown within 350 miles of where it’s served. Most produce travels about 1,500 miles, according to the company.

California suppliers include JJ & Son Marketing, Chualar; Kenter Canyon Farms, Sun Valley; Live Oak Farms, Le Grand; and Peri & Sons Farms, Firebaugh. Florida suppliers include J&J Produce, Loxahatchee; and Pero Family Farms, Delray Beach.

“We are changing the way people think about and eat fast food,” founder and chairman Steve Ells said in the release. Chipotle is pursuing ingredients that have been mostly limited to higher-end restaurants and specialty food markets, he said, while controlling costs.

Chipotle Mexican Grill began its locally-sourced produce program in 2008 and has increased volume over the years.

In a 2012 Mintel survey of 2,000 U.S. adults, 52% said buying local produce is more important than buying organic.

Chipotle served more than 120 million pounds of meat under its Responsibly Raised trademark last year.



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