Chipotle Mexican Grill has finally found a new pork supplier to ease its carnitas shortage woes, according to a new report. The company signed a deal with Karro Food, which is based in Malton, England, and will be restoring carnitas to menus in more than 100 Florida locations, BloombergBusiness reported.
“The new pork is just getting into restaurants in Florida, and we’ll continue to add new markets in the coming months as our supply increases,” Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, said in an e-mail. “We expect to have carnitas back in all of our restaurants before the end of the year.”
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In January, Chipotle suspended one of its pork suppliers for not meeting its pig-housing standards, resulting in a shortage of carnitas, which is a burrito and taco filling made from shredded pork shoulder. The pork shortage affected roughly 560 restaurants, accounting for about one-third of the chain’s 1,800 total U.S. locations. As a result, Chipotle’s shares dropped 7.4 percent to $641.23, BloombergBusiness reported in April. The company said that it probably wouldn't be fully supplied again until the fourth quarter, and although it had expected customers to replace their usual order of carnitas with the chicken or steak options, most customers chose to wait for carnitas to return to the menu.
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Chipotle said that finding a new pork supplier that met its pig-housing standards was not easy, according to its website. The company does not use pork raised “conventionally,” meaning it shunned pork from pigs raised indoors in densely crowded conditions. Since roughly 95 percent of pigs in the U.S. are raised this way, Chipotle chose to look abroad for a new pork supplier, coming away impressed with Karro and how the company raised its pigs.
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“When our meat buyers and animal welfare team toured their farms, they were excited about the quality of the meat Karro is producing, and the ways in which their farming practices emphasize what’s best for the animal above all else,” according to Chipotle’s website. The restaurant prefers to use pork raised entirely free of antibiotics, but they made an exception with Karro because the supplier uses antibiotics responsibly and in a way that is consistent with Chipotle's animal welfare standards.
Chipotle has been making strides recently when it comes to its reputation as a healthy fast-food alternative. The eatery announced in April that its food is officially free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), making it the first major restaurant chain in the U.S. fast-food sector to do so.