At Chipotle, pork (aka carnitas) is serious business—for both the company and their customers. The brand made headlines at the start of 2015 when they were forced to cut ties with one pork producer after discovering that they didn’t meet Chipotle’s stringent standards. That led to carnitas shortages at Chipotle locations around the country, and that impacted business. “Carnitas customers really love our pork and aren’t visiting unless they know we have carnitas in their market," John Hartung, company CFO, said during a recent call with investors. "They order that favorite meal every single time they visit. Many have decided to hold out until carnitas returns to their market.”
Well, the good news for those pork obsessives is that Chipotle claims they’re nearing a solution to help fill the gap with a new supplier. Still, founder Steve Ells stressed that they’re not out of the woods yet: Shortages could still affect a third of the company’s more than 1,000 locations throughout the spring and summer. A full recovery isn’t expected until the fourth quarter.
So what exactly makes Chipotle’s pork so special? Bloomberg Business decided to look into that exact question, releasing the video above yesterday. In the piece, reporter Julie Hyman compares two different US pork suppliers: Alderland Farm, which adheres to Chipotle’s standards, and Brenneman Pork, a producer that doesn’t (selling instead to Tyson Foods). Owners of both farms seem to be pretty frank about what they believe to be the pros and cons of their methods. But the imagery is equally as stark, showing the difference between pigs wandering about and pigs stuck in metal cages.
In breaking down the production numbers, Bloomberg makes it easy to see why filling a pork shortage isn’t easy for companies that insist on their farms meeting a list of strict criteria, as Chipotle does. But it also lays out how, yes, there is something different about that carnitas compared to other large chains, which is part of why the shortage was such a big deal to begin with.
[h/t Nation’s Restaurant News]