Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG – News) (NYSE:CMG.B – News), will expand its local produce program this summer, purchasing at least 35 percent of at least one bulk produce item in all of its restaurants from local farmers when it is seasonally available. This represents a 10 percent increase over last year’s program, the first of its kind for any national restaurant chain.
Under its local produce program, Chipotle expects to have more than 25 local farms in its network that will supply some of the romaine lettuce, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, red onions and/or oregano served at the 860-plus Chipotle restaurants nationwide.
“Our commitment to cooking and preparing food with more sustainable ingredients has always been about doing the right thing; the right thing for better tasting food, the right thing for the environment, and the right thing for farmers,” says Steve Ells, founder, chairman, and co-CEO of Chipotle.
“Many consumers are just now starting to understand where their food comes from and how it’s raised, but we have known for a long time that there are many benefits to food that is raised right.”
According to a survey commissioned by Chipotle and conducted by Harris Interactive, consumers say that sourcing their food locally is becoming increasingly important for them; half of adults (51 percent) say that it is important for restaurants and markets in their local area to purchase produce and other ingredients from local farms in their area. Additionally, a majority of adults (52 percent) are likely to dine at restaurants that purchase produce from farms in their local area.
“Chipotle is helping to create an obvious demand for local and more sustainably raised food,” says Bill Niman, a pioneer in the sustainable food movement and a sustainable agriculture advisor for Chipotle.
“We hope that by getting more people to eat food that was grown in essentially their back yard, we will help generate more interest in eating locally.”