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Chipotle on Track To Serve 10 Million Pounds of Local Produce in 2012

Chipotle Mexican Grill said it plans to serve more than 10 million pounds of locally grown produce for the second year in a row, up from 5 million pounds just two years ago.

Chipotle has steadily increased its locally sourced produce supply since beginning the program in 2008, with the commitment to serve vegetables that are grown on farms within 350 miles of the restaurants where they will be served.

According to a recent online survey of 2,000 adults by market research firm Mintel, more than half (52%) of U.S. consumers say it’s more important to buy local produce than organic options. Chipotle is a leader when it comes to supporting local farms and more sustainable agriculture.

Chipotle works with local, family-owned farms to provide bell peppers, red onions, jalapenos, oregano, and romaine lettuce for its restaurants. Chipotle restaurants in Florida and California also source locally grown tomatoes, as well as lemons and avocados in California. These ingredients are used to make Chipotle’s salsas, salads, fajitas and other offerings. Chipotle remains the only national restaurant company with a significant commitment to using locally grown produce.

In 2011, Chipotle’s local produce haul included 3.6 million pounds of bell peppers, more than 400,000 pounds of jalapenos, 2 million pounds of red onions, 4.7 million pounds of romaine lettuce, and more than a combined 300,000 pounds of cilantro and oregano.

Beyond this commitment, Chipotle continues to serve significant quantities of organically grown beans and cilantro. It is also working with Food Alliance-certified growers to source beans that use conservation tillage methods, which reduce soil erosion. The company sources 100 percent of its meat from animals that are naturally raised (the animals are never given antibiotics or added hormones), and increasing amounts of milk from pasture-raised dairy cattle for its cheese and sour cream.

“Supporting local farms continues to be important to us,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle. “Food that is locally grown is fresher and better tasting, and supports local farm communities around the country. Making local food accessible is an important part of our commitment to providing better food, from more sustainable sources. It is a key element in our effort to change the way people think about and eat fast food.”

Chris Arnold, Chipotle’s Communications Director, presented at the 2012 Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego. Read coverage, or watch the video.

Bart King is a PR/marketing communications consultant and principal at Cleantech Communications. 

Bart King is the principal of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. He is also Associate Editor of Sponsored Content for Sustainable Brands. Follow him @bart_king [Read more about Bart King]

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