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·         Chipotle CFO: 'When we do plant-based, it's gonna be real plants'

·         Chipotle sees same-store sales soar 13.4% in Q4



Chipotle CFO: 'When we do plant-based, it's gonna be real plants'


Alexis Christoforous, Yahoo Finance

February 5, 2020


Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) may have served up a blowout earnings report for the fourth quarter despite rising costs, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the burrito chain to add fake meat to its menu.


While rival chains including McDonald’s (MCD), Burger King (QSR), Denny’s (DENN), and Red Robin (RRGB) have all rushed to cash in on the plant-based protein craze, inking deals with meat substitute leaders Beyond Meat (BYND) and Impossible Foods, Chipotle is sticking to its simple menu items that use only 51 ingredients.


“When we do plant-based, it’s gonna be real plants,” Chipotle CFO Jack Hartung tells Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.”


It’s a dig at Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, which both use highly processed plant-based ingredients. Beyond Meat’s main ingredient is pea protein, while Impossible Foods uses genetically modified soy to give its meatless offerings the consistency and taste of real meat.


Chipotle currently does all of its culinary development of new products in-house.


“You’re going to see produce like super greens, you’re going to see peppers – we have to heat up peppers on our line.” says Hartung. “I would not expect to see any kind of, you know, where you take plants and then you process the ingredients, then turn it into something like a ground beef or a burger or something like that.”


Last year Chipotle added a vegan bowl and a vegetarian bowl to its menu, which features sofritas made from tofu.


Hartung says when the chain adds plant-based foods it will only use...





Chipotle sees same-store sales soar 13.4% in Q4

The fast-casual chain credits its continued growth to carne asada, digital efforts and its pickup-only drive-thrus.


By Heather Lalley, Restaurant Business 

Feb. 05, 2020


Change is on the menu at Chipotle Mexican Grill, which once again posted double-digit same-store sales increases and strong growth in digital channels, according to Q4 earnings released late Tuesday.


The Newport Beach, Calif.-based fast casual saw same-store sales climb 13.4% for its quarter ended Dec. 31, 2019, with total revenue increasing 17.6% to $1.4 billion. Traffic grew 8%, with a 5.4% increase in average check.


Chipotle executives credited some of that growth to the success of its limited-time carne asada protein addition, which will be removed from the menu by the end of the current quarter.


“This premium steak continues to exceed our expectations,” Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol said during a call with analysts. “As a result, our supply chain team is exploring options to see if we can add this as a permanent menu item at some point in the future, contingent, of course, on us finding enough supply of high-quality ingredients that meet our Food with Integrity standards.”


As carne asada exits, though, the chain expects to roll out Queso Blanco nationwide. It’ll be the chain’s third attempt at finding a cheese sauce that’s palatable to consumers after previous iterations were criticized for being lumpy and prone to congeal. The new queso, which includes Monterey Jack, white cheddar and several hot pepper varieties, has been tested at dozens of stores in multiple markets as part of the company’s stage-gate innovation process. It will replace the chain’s existing queso “shortly,” Niccol said.


Several other menu items are in the early stages of testing.


Also driving sales growth at Chipotle are the chain’s pickup-only drive-thrus, called “Chipotlanes.” The company opened 46 new Chipotlanes during Q4, for a total of 66 of the drive-thrus. In 2020, the chain plans to open 150 to 165 new units, with more than half featuring a drive-thru.


The drive-thrus represent the highest-margin order-ahead and pickup transaction for Chipotle, company executives said.


Digital sales grew 78.3% and now account for 19.6% of the company’s total sales...


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