Guacamole at Chipotle could be climate change’s next casualty

BY Ruth Tam  March 4, 2014 at 6:23 PM EST
Photo by Flickr user threelayercake

Photo by Flickr user threelayercake

What do the Arctic’s ice cap, America’s bee population and Chipotle’s guacamole have in common?

They’re all potential casualties of global climate change.

In Chipotle’s 2013 annual report, the company noted that increasing weather volatility, changes in weather patterns and global climate change “could have a significant impact on the price or availability of some of our ingredients.”

Listing possible price increases for chicken, beef, cheese, avocados, beans, rice, tomatoes and pork, the company, which prioritizes locally sourced ingredients, said changes due to global climate change would “adversely affect our operating results.”

“Alternatively, 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.”

If you’re upset right now, Chipotle wants you to know it’s not pleased either.

“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.”

Just how valuable are avocados to Chipotle’s operation?

Think Progress reports Chipotle uses 97,000 pounds of avocado daily to make its guac, which translates to 35.4 million pounds of avocados yearly.

Avocados have shrunk in size in recent harvests but the number of fruits have actually increased. So, what’s there to worry about? Chipotle, which recently absorbed a significant price increase in beef and introduced a new vegetarian tofu option, might be taking proactive steps to address how the climate could affect its business long term.