Chipotle Understands Final Products Are Only as Good as Their Raw Materials

Chipotle Mexican Grill recently announced that they had completed their transition, with a few qualifiers, to only using non-GMO ingredients in their food products.  Interestingly, many of the responses were described as “backlash”, with the exception of one reaction that I believe showed a great deal of understanding with what Chipotle is doing.

The best example of what’s happening is found in one recent article – all of the items on Chipotle’s menu come from 68 ingredients.  Conversely, one of Chipotle’s competitors markets a single burrito that contains 81 ingredients.  In short, Chipotle is limiting ingredients and marketing this approach to show they pay attention to consumer demands and know what is in their food.  Earlier this year, Chipotle removed pork carnitas from approximately 600 restaurants when an audit revealed that the pork farm was not following the required standards.  Rather than find an “inferior” replacement, the menu was reduced until the farm could come back into compliance.

Chipotle has followed a great business philosophy that is true for any human food, pet food or animal feed product; the product is only as good as the raw materials used to make them (see here and here).  Also, the greater the number of ingredients used the more difficult it is to maintain quality – there is only so much time available to perform supplier audits and measure quality of incoming ingredients.

I have seen this first hand in one company that was attempting to rapidly grow product lines by offering formulations with a host of different ingredients.  There were constant battles between maintaining production volume and product quality.  At times, a compromise was reached that minimally reduced quality in order to maintain production.

Insta-Pro International is also involved with non-GMO ingredient production.  In particular, non-GMO soybeans can be processed using high-shear dry extrusion followed by mechanical oil pressing.  This process will deactivate naturally-occurring anti-nutritional factors in soybeans and rupture cell walls for isolation of a large percentage of oil from the protein-containing meal.

Because our equipment lines are chemical-free and allow for identity preservation, we are becoming more involved in non-GMO soy production.  As I’ve blogged about previously, current processing systems are not set up to segregate different types of grains or oilseeds.  They are set up for high-volume commodities, not for ingredients with unique characteristics.

What all this means is, it doesn’t matter if you operate a processing facility or restaurant.  It is important to work with a company that understands their equipment, how it is properly operated and final product performance (see here and here).  Businesses, like Chipotle, continue to grow by responding to current market demands and providing food and feed products that are made with quality ingredients.  Chipotle could take their quality standards one step farther and require their suppliers to raise their meat on a non-gmo diet.  For more nutritional information and advice, contact Dave Albin or Nabil Said.

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