Chipotle reverses protein policy, says workers can choose chicken once again

Apr 25, 2024, 2:27 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 26: A customer orders food at a Chipotle restaurant on April 26, ...

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 26: A customer orders food at a Chipotle restaurant on April 26, 2022 in San Francisco, California. Chipotle Mexican Grill will report its first quarter earnings today after the closing bell. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Chipotle says its employees can choose chicken once again.

Last week, the chain asked its U.S. and Canadian employees to temporarily select another protein for their work meals to preserve the company’s supply of chicken. The directive applied to both corporate staff and restaurant employees.

Newport Beach, California-based Chipotle has more than 114,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada.

But Laurie Schalow, the Mexican chain’s chief corporate affairs and food safety officer, said Thursday that the directive has been rescinded and employees can return to ordering chicken with their meals.

“We are not experiencing outages of chicken in our restaurants,” Schalow said in a statement. “Last week we temporarily asked employees to select non-chicken options for their employee meals to maintain supply for our guests based on our strong sales, but employees are now free to select chicken in their meals as normal.”

Chipotle’s chicken al pastor, which is marinaded in morita peppers, ground achiote and pineapple, debuted in March 2023. It grew so popular that it soon made up 20% of all orders, Chipotle said. It was removed from the menu last August.

During a conference call with investors Wednesday, Chipotle said its reintroduction of chicken al pastor in March as a limited-time offer drove strong traffic to its 3,371 U.S. stores and 66 international stores.

Chipotle said its revenue rose 14% to $2.7 billion in the January-March period while its same-store sales – or sales at locations open at least a year – were up 7%. Brian Niccol, Chipotle’s chairman and CEO, said chicken al pastor was bringing in additional customers and encouraging regulars to come more often.

Chipotle Chief Financial Officer Jack Hartung said Thursday that the company plans to pull chicken al pastor off the menu again sometime in the third quarter of this year.

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Chipotle reverses protein policy, says workers can choose chicken once again