Holy guacamole! Chipotle says ingredients could be limited by global warming

03/05/2014 12:04 PM

03/05/2014 3:36 PM

It’s come to this — whipped up concerns over whether guacamole might be the next victim of global warming.

National media reports about the connection between global warming and guacamole cropped up Wednesday faster than the time it takes to slice and mash a couple of avocados.

What prompted the concerns? The annual report from Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Deep in the disclosures, the restaurant chain said drought and other changes in global weather patterns could limit the availability of guacamole and one or more of its salsas. The key word is “could.”

“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,” Chipotle said in a section of the report where it cites potential risk factors related to operating its business.

The company said any increase in the prices of the ingredients “most crucial” to its menu, such as chicken, beef, cheese, avocados, beans, rice, tomatoes and pork, “would adversely affect our operating results. Alternatively, in the event of cost increases … we may choose 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.”

Liberal bloggers, including ThinkProgress, picked up this week on the disclosure, actually filed earlier this year by the company.

Don’t worry, Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told CNN Money.

“This is nothing more than routine risk factor disclosure,” Arnold said. “The sky is not falling. I wouldn’t read too much into this.”

No doubt, the nation’s avocado crop is suffering from a severe drought in California and elsewhere. Arnold did not provide any figures on how much prices for guacamole and other restaurant menu items might increase because of the drought and other weather-related issues. But he told CNN Money that a slight price increase is far more likely than any shortages at its restaurants.

“We saw similar issues in 2011 and incurred higher prices for the avocados we used, but never stopped serving guacamole,” he told the news service.

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