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Monday, May 4, 2015

Strategic CSR - Chipotle

The article in the url below covers a recent announcement by Chipotle:
"In a first for a major restaurant chain, Chipotle Mexican Grill on Monday will begin serving only food that is free of genetically engineered ingredients."
This is the latest step in a series of actions by various food companies to distance themselves from GMO-related foods:
"In 2013, Chipotle was the first restaurant chain to indicate which items contained genetically modified organisms, and a small but growing number of restaurants, largely in fine dining, also now label their menus. Grocers, too, are moving to offer consumers more products free of genetically altered ingredients. The shelves and cases in Whole Foods stores are to be free of products containing such ingredients by 2018, and Walmart is vastly expanding its selection of organic foods, which are free of genetic alteration by law."
The problem, of course, is whether this is possible in practice, now that GMO foods have worked themselves so far into the food-chain:
"Ridding the supply chain of genetically altered components is difficult. They lurk in baking powder, cornstarch and a variety of ingredients used as preservatives, coloring agents and added vitamins, as well as in commodities like canola and soy oils, corn meal and sugar."
In addition to identifying non-GMO foods, a significant challenge is finding the volume necessary to supply a national fast-food chain:
"Chipotle has run short of beef from time to time, and last December it announced that it could not supply all of its restaurants with the pork needed for carnitas after an audit found that one of its suppliers had failed to meet its standards for raising pigs. That shortage continues, cutting into the company's sales, and last week it said it probably would not be able to offer carnitas in all of its more than 1,800 restaurants until this fall."
In spite of these challenges, to the extent that food outlets continue to reject GMO ingredients, food producers (farmers, large agribusinesses) will face pressure to remove GMOs from the supply chain. Irrespective of the science behind these organisms, stakeholders should be active in shaping their societies and, if we do not want GMO foods, then we should be sending that signal to food companies who should stop producing them.
Take care
David Chandler & Bill Werther
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Chipotle to Stop Serving Genetically Altered Food
By Stephanie Strom
April 27, 2015
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final