This might come as a big surprise to many who expected that Chipotle would use a food supplier that is domestic, but it was much more important to them to have pork that was high quality rather than local to replenish its current shortage.
It has been the preference to get pork as well as other meats from suppliers in the U.S., but now the supply is just not available, said a spokesperson for the company.
The spokesperson added that close to 95% of the pork that is produced in the U.S. is raised conventionally, so the supply that can meet the company’s high standards is quite small.
The carnitas crisis at Chipotle started in January of this year, when a supplier of pork was suspended for violating the standards of the company. The pigs were raised conventionally instead of responsibly.
Pigs raised conventionally generally do not have any access to the outdoors and spend most of their lives in buildings that are densely crowded, live on floor that are hard slatted with little or no bedding and have no way to root. Some receive antibiotics so they will not become sick.
An international news organization said that this caused many Chipotle restaurants to stop serving carnitas, but overall carnitas were able to still represent more than 6% of the total menus sales.
One of the food suppliers for Chipotle, Niman Ranch, stepped in and helped out this past January by using some of its pork reserves, but that did not seem as if it would solve the entire problem.
In April the founder and CEO of Chipotle Steve Ells told a local newspaper that there was very little cushion in the pork supply that met the standards for Chipotle and the shortage would likely continue through the end of 2015.
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