Climate change activists have promised that global warming will lead to flooding, heat waves and species' extinctions. Chipotle fans may now be facing another disaster – the loss of guacamole.
Chipotle, which says it goes through about 97,000 pounds of avocados a day, has warned investors that global warming and related weather changes may affect availability of ingredients such as guacamole. While the chain expressed a willingness to suffer through the increased price of key ingredients such as chicken, rice and tomatoes, non-essentials may get the axe if climate change drastically increases prices.
"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 burrito chain said in its annual report. "[I]n 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."
The understanding that weather plays a key role in restaurants' pricing and stocking is hardly a new idea. The difference is that few chains link the raising prices or limited offerings so directly to climate change.
Chipotle, however, has made a name for itself as a sustainable and eco-savvy option in the fast-casual and fast-food landscape. The chain has created music videos and a comedy series on the dangerous of factory farming, and just last week launched the vegan Sofritas burrito option. While it's unlikely that guacamole will vanish from Chipotle in the immediate future, the chain's concern for the environment is not only business savvy, but also helps build its eco-friendly image.