Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) announced the publication of its 2019 Sustainability Report Update today, a detailed report on the progress of the company’s goals set forth in the comprehensive 2018 Sustainability Report. With the U.S. economy strained, reduced demand leaves farmers dumping crops and facing more challenges than ever, and Chipotle is committed to supporting this group with bold actions as transparently evidenced by its metrics surrounding food and animals, the environment and people. According to a report from the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri, crop prices this year are expected to drop by approximately 10% and livestock pricing by 12% so now more than ever actionable steps need to continue to be taken to ensure these farms can survive.
“The work we’ve accomplished in 2019 is exciting and sets the tone for our continued investment, growth, and support for the farming community,” said Brian Niccol, Chairman and CEO of Chipotle. “We will leverage our economic influence to provide the education, training, and tools needed to cultivate the future of farming.”
Understanding the barriers farmers face to maintain a sustainable farm aligned with the Company’s Food with Integrity standards, Chipotle created the Chipotle Local Grower Support Initiative in 2016 committed to providing financial support to help small and medium-sized growers of fresh produce. The funds provide financial resources to secure the personnel, technology, training, and testing mandated for its suppliers. With this initiative in place, Chipotle increased total purchases of locally grown produce by 20% in 2019 from 29 million pounds to 35.5 million pounds of fresh produce. By increasing local purchases from small and medium-sized farms in rural areas, Chipotle is strengthening local farming economies in addition to reducing the total distance that food needs to travel before it reaches its restaurant destination.
Last year, 56% of farms lost money* with financial loss in 2020 expected to significantly increase with a global pandemic and new food scarcity supply issues. As reported in the new Sustainability Report Update, Chipotle plans to continue its support of its Local Growers Program, contributing to a healthier outlook for real food from real farmers. In addition, Chipotle is empowering the next generation of farmers by offering education, scholarships, grants, and three-year contracts to young farmers. This Friday, through a partnership between the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation and the National Young Farmers Coalition, 50 recipients will be informed they’re receiving a $5,000 grant, a total of $250,000, from the partnership to start or grow their business. Young farmers submitted applications earlier this year sharing their personal stories and indicating how they will utilize these funds. Chipotle and the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation have contributed over $500,000 to-date to support the next generation of farmers.
Sophie Ackoff, Co-Executive Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition, stated, “Young farmers and ranchers are providing food and essential services for their communities and are facing greater challenges than ever before.” “We are thrilled to partner with Chipotle to make an investment in this next generation and to provide critical funding to help them overcome the challenges they face launching and building their new farm businesses.”
“When you eat Chipotle, you are supporting a business with integrity that is actively fighting to Cultivate a Better World,” said Caitlin Leibert, Head of Sustainability at Chipotle. “As a very public and engaged brand, we have a great responsibility to ensure action and accountability in the areas of sustainability and transparency, and I am so proud of our success in 2019 and inspired for the future ahead.”
Chipotle is also working to support growth-stage ventures across the country to advance innovative solutions in farming through its accelerator program, Chipotle Aluminaries Project 2.0. The industry-leading program is sponsored by the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation in partnership with Uncharted, both nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. The eight selected ventures chosen for the 2020 cohort will be announced later this month to receive support and mentorship from notable industry leaders.
Additional highlights from the 2019 Sustainability Report Update include:
Food & Animals
- 15 million pounds of organic beans, rice and wheat for tortillas were purchased
- 29.5 million pounds of chicken fed by non-GMO grains
- 33.4% increase in domestic pork supply from small to medium sized farms
- Earned awards for improvements to Chipotle’s longstanding animal welfare program
- $9 million dollars were donated through 52,206 local community fundraisers
- $2.8 million in food was donated to those in need
- $25,000 was donated to the United Way to help with disaster relief efforts
- 200+ community service and volunteer hours were achieved by Restaurant Support Center employees
- 100% of upfront tuition costs covering 75 different business and technology degree options were announced as an option for Chipotle employees to pursue Debt Free College Degrees
- Four Employee Resource Groups were launched focusing on employee engagement, contributing to surrounding communities (SERVES), improving personal wellbeing (Wellness), empowering women in the workplace (HUSTLE) and supporting LGBTQ+ community (PRIDE).
- Established a new goal working with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) to set science-based targets for company-wide emissions by the end of 2021
- 34.5 Million kWh of energy were saved
- 4,393 tons of carbon emissions were reduced via in-restaurant Energy Management Systems
- 1,465,490 cubic yards of waste were recycled
- 36,972 cubic yards of waste were composted in result of Chipotle’s composting program
- 149,666 cubic yards of waste turned into energy
- 47% of waste was diverted away from the landfill
- One million + gloves were diverted from the landfill with Chipotle’s industry-leading Gloves to Bags program.
* Source: USDA NASS 2017 Census