March 30, 2014

Chipotle warns no more gaucamole if climate change gets worse

It’s your choice, America. Fix the climate, or the guac gets it.

Chipotle Inc. is warning investors that extreme weather events “associated with global climate change” might eventually affect the availability of some of its ingredients. If availability is limited, prices will rise — and Chipotle isn’t sure it’s willing to pay.

“Increasing weather volatility or other long-term changes in global weather patterns, including any changes associated with global climate change, could have a significant impact on the price or availability of some of our ingredients,” the popular chain, whose Sofritas vegan tofu dish recently went national, said in its annual report released last month. “In the event of cost increases with respect to one or more of our raw ingredients we may choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as guacamole or one or more of our salsas, rather than paying the increased cost for the ingredients.”

Chipotle did say that it recognizes the pain it (and its devotees) would have to go through if it decided to suspend a menu item. “Any such changes to our available menu may negatively impact our restaurant traffic and comparable restaurant sales, and could also have an adverse impact on our brand,” the filing read.

The guacamole operation at Chipotle is massive. The company uses, on average, 97,000 pounds of avocado every day to make its guac — which adds up to 35.4 million pounds of avocados every year. And while the avocado industry is fine at the moment, scientists are anticipating drier conditions due to climate change, which may have negative effects on California’s crop. Scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, for example, predict hotter temps will cause a 40 percent drop in California‘s avocado production over the next 32 years. [Climate Progress]
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