The Mexican grill chain recently stopped serving pork-based carnitas in many of its US restaurants, after it discovered one of its suppliers was breaking the chain’s animal welfare standards. The business suspended all purchases from the supplier and sought out a new supplier. In the meantime, about one third of its US restaurants had to take pork products off the firm’s menus.
A spokesman for Chipotle said finding a new pork supplier was not easy. “There are very few farmers who raise animals in a way that meets our requirements—this is especially true when it comes to pigs. In the US, around 95% of pigs are raised conventionally.” Chipotle said it would not accept pigs reared in confined conditions.
“Because so little pork is raised outside of the conventional system in the US, we ultimately needed to look abroad as well,” said the spokesman.
The chain decided UK-based Karro met its requirements. “When our meat buyers and animal welfare team toured their farms, they were excited about the quality of the meat Karro is producing, and the ways in which their farming practices emphasise what’s best for the animal above all else. We are now serving carnitas made with pork from Karro in most of our Florida restaurants.”
A spokesman for Karro Food Group said: “Karro Food Group can confirm that it has secured a supply agreement with Chipotle in the US. The agreement is to supply the raw material for its pork products, one of the key ingredients on the Chipotle menu.
“Karro is providing an international solution to the ongoing raw material availability issues in the US and has delivered this through a high animal welfare platform. Due to the location and welfare credentials of Karro’s integrated farms in Brydock, Karro has been able to offer the required higher welfare standard.
“Karro is delighted to be working in partnership with such a high-quality US business and, like Karro, one that takes animal welfare so seriously. Karro will continue to work with Chipotle to develop even higher animal welfare strategies.
“Two years ago, the newly created Karro Food Group embarked upon a multi-channel strategy across retail, foodservice and export markets, which have materially improved the carcase balance enabling real value to be shared with all of its customers. The Chipotle contract is another example of strong delivery against this agenda.”
The Karro spokesman declined to reveal the volume or value of the pork involved.