Chipotle

12 for ’12

Our athletes went to the Olympics, our science went to Mars, and our people went to the polls. But what of the restaurant industry in 2012? These dozen items from the year had the biggest impact on the foodservice landscape and shaped the industry for a potentially game-changing 2013.

An Economy in Flux

The economic recovery isn’t lighting a fire under anyone’s feet, but the economy did at least improve, albeit slightly.

Year of the Brand

In this last Brand New Perspectives of 2012, I’m breaking from my usual Q&A format to recap some of the most important brand developments in fast food this past year.

Despite the sluggish economy and uncertainty that typically accompanies election years, companies in our industry chose to make some of their boldest moves in 2012, and some exciting new chains took the stage. Here are my picks for the seven biggest brand stories of the year.

Chipotle Signs Agreement with CIW to Join Fair Food Program

Chipotle Mexican Grill and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a farmworker-based human rights organization, have reached an agreement that brings Chipotle’s commitment to sustainable food to the CIW’s Fair Food Program.

The agreement, which will improve wages and working conditions for farmworkers in Florida who pick tomatoes for Chipotle, comes in advance of the winter tomato-growing season, when most of the nation’s tomatoes come from growers in Florida.

The Fair Food Program provides a bonus for tomato pickers to improve wages.

Two Birds, One Stone

Brands combine ever-important healthy eating and philanthropic efforts.

Kids' meal purchases at Chipotle in August helped the Veggie U nonprofit.
Kids' meal purchases at Chipotle in August helped the Veggie U nonprofit.

Healthy menu options and philanthropic efforts have become expected weapons in every quick serve’s arsenal over the last few years. Now, major brands are increasingly figuring out how to kill two birds with one stone by combining those efforts.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, for example, has helped spread the message about nutrition and sustainable agriculture in schools through a partnership with the Milan, Ohio–based nonprofit Veggie U.

Starbucks Holds $87.4M in Impact Media Value

Starbucks is the top quick-service restaurant brand with $87.4 million of Impact Media Value according to General Sentiment’s Q2 2012 QSR MediaMatch report.

McDonald’s ($39.4 million), Taco Bell ($38.7 million), Burger King ($37.4 million), and Chipotle ($29.5 million) round out the top five. The top six brands in the rankings have remained unchanged since the last report.

Chipotle Meets Pasture-Raised Sour Cream Goal

Chipotle Mexican Grill announced that it has reached an important milestone in its efforts to serve sour cream and cheese made with milk from pasture-raised dairy cows.

Beginning this month, 100 percent of the restaurants' sour cream will come from pasture-raised cattle. Under this protocol, cows have daily access to outdoor pastures, are never given added hormones, and are fed a plant-based diet. In addition, the animals must have access to shelter, housing, or windbreaks that provide adequate protection from the elements.

Billabong Clothing Brand Partners with Chipotle

Clothing brand Billabong announced its partnership with the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, an organization committed to creating a more sustainable and healthful food supply and to raising awareness concerning food issues, as the beneficiary of this year's Design for Humanity event.

To kick off the partnership, Billabong and the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation will host an intimate farm-to-table dinner on June 21, 2012, at The Ecology Center, Orange County's premier eco-educational facility in San Juan Capistrano, California.

The 5 in 5

In the highly competitive restaurant industry, where innovation reigns, a lot can happen in the span of half a decade. Five years ago, the quick-serve industry was a different place. Five Guys was mostly a regional player and the better-burger category had yet to explode. Chipotle started making headlines with its commitment to sustainable food. And operators were raving about hot trends like eco-friendly packaging and the renewed focus on coffee.

Chipotle Donates $100K to California State Parks

Chipotle Mexican Grill will donate $100,000 to support the California State Parks Foundation’s (CSPF) fundraising efforts following a $22 million budget cut to state parks, resulting in the scheduled closure of up to 70 California parks on July 1, 2012.

On Saturday, June 30, 2012, Chipotle urges guests to take advantage of California’s parks, the day before many of them close, by offering half off Burritos by the Box orders of six or more from its California restaurants.

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