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Chipotle Wins with Integrity
By: Cindy Wendland
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Quality is directly proportional to cost. A high-quality diamond without flaws will cost more than a lesser diamond with flaws. Processed chicken nuggets at fast-food restaurants will cost less than organic chicken at a gourmet restaurant. Higher quality food will cost a little more. Chipotle is a Mexican restaurant that positions itself as serving higher quality food than other fast-food restaurants. Chipotle made the news for pork supplier standards.

One way Chipotle ensures their quality is by buying meat from suppliers that meet their standards of humane treatment. For pork, Chipotle requires that the animals have access to the outdoors. Chipotle’s main supplier was found to be in violation of this standard during a routine audit, so purchases were halted.

It’s a simple logistics explanation. When there is no supply, product cannot be sold. In this case, the lack of pork affects Chipotle’s carnitas. Rather than buying pork from a supplier that does not meet their standards, Chipotle will lose sales until the supply can be re-established. What a smart move on their part.

As consumers, we have to trust in the brands that we patronize. If Chipotle says they buy quality meats and describe their standards, we tend to believe them. If they then change their standards but don’t tell consumers, are we the wiser? At some point, some consumer advocacy group would find out, and the company reputation would be tarnished. Sales and profits would be affected. The brand would become questionable. 

The positive press the company will receive from sticking to quality standards will be remembered by patrons. Perhaps the carnitas customers will try something new at Chipotle and now have a few favorites. For those of us who didn’t know the quality of meat Chipotle strives to maintain, Chipotle may even acquire new customers. So follow suit and stick to your branding position come pork or no pork, because integrity wins in the end.

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About the Author
Cindy Wendland has a background in marketing and finance. She is the creative director for an online men's health magazine, BrainBrawnBody.com, and she gets to write their leisure/travel blog. She is also a web designer helping her clients with online community engagement, websitesbywendland.com. Prior to her web years, she worked in pharmacy consulting.
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