15 Sep 2014
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The End of Guacamole as We Know It?

Chipotle tells investors climate change is affecting the price of avocados and a favorite Mexican dip hangs in the balance.

The End of Guacamole as We Know It?

California farmers – and consumers – have been feeling the state drought’s impact on avocados in both sizeand price, and now a national Mexican restaurant chain is telling investors the guac may have to go.

Chipotle, a Denver-based chain with some 900 outlets nationwide, told investors in its most recent filings that climate change is having an impact on its bottom line. There are two Chipotles in Northridge. 

“Weather related issues, such as freezes or drought, may also lead to temporary spikes in the prices of some ingredients such as produce or meats,” says the report to investors. “Increasing weather volatility or other long-term changes in global weather patterns, including any changes associated with global climate change, could have a significant impact on the price or availability of some of our ingredients.”

An uptick in avocado prices is not exactly small potatoes, to mix metaphors. Chipotle goes through 35 million pounds of the green fruit a year to make its guacamole, according to ABC News in San Francisco.

Faced with the hard choices, the chain may have to “temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as guacamole or one or more of our salsas, rather than paying the increased cost for the ingredients.”

Chipotle acknowledges such drastic action could have a negative impact on its image – and traffic.

Which is why today a spokesman told NPR that the restaurant is backing away from the language used in the SEC filing, that it was just a “routine disclosure.”

“There is no looming 'guacapocalypse,' and I wouldn't read too much into this," company spokesman Chris Arnold told NPR in an email.

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