Nearly three months after announcing that they would be temporarily taking pork carnitas off the menu at one-third of their locations nationwide, Chipotle’s “Great Pork Shortage of 2015” still continues, and it looks like we won’t be getting pork back on the menu anytime soon. Fortunately, Chipotle is doing all of this for ethical reasons.
“We suspended a supplier in January when routine auditing found that they weren't adhering to all of the facets of our protocols,” Chris Arnold, communications director for Chipotle, told The Daily Meal. “Because so few pigs in this country are raised to our higher standard, there really isn't slack in the system. There's plenty of pork, but not pork that meets our standard.”
Not even 24 hours after the initial announcement, the day seemed to be saved: another supplier, Niman Ranch, stepped up to the plate. But customers have still been seeing the dreaded “no carnitas” signs at their local Chipotle, so what gives?
“We are getting more pork from Niman Ranch, but the extra amount we are getting from them doesn't fill the gap entirely,” Arnold said. “We lost about a third of our total supply, and Niman is providing 15 percent to 20 percent more than they were before. We have been working to rebuild that supply, but there aren't quick fixes and we never said it would be fast or easy. We are looking to see if we can identify new suppliers. We are considering some other options as well."
Since Chipotle operates almost 2,000 stores nationwide and earns $4.11 billion in revenue annually, that’s a whole lot of happy pigs needed. The lack of pork doesn’t just make for angry customers. According to Bloomberg, it could also be hindering Chipotle’s national expansion. Chipotle declined to give a speculative timeline for the return of carnitas.