Holy guacamole! Will climate change keep treat off Chipotle menu?


It's not easy being green when you need 97,000 pounds of avocado every day to do it. That's the amount that the fast-casual chain Chipotle needs to keep the guacamole on its burritos.

Think Progress says Chipotle warned investors in an annual report that extreme weather events “associated with global climate change” might eventually affect the availability of some ingredients, including you-know-what.

“In the event of cost increases with respect to one or more of our raw ingredients 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,” the filing said.

Drier conditions anticipated in the future could have negative effects on avocado farming. Scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, for example, predict hotter temperatures will cause a 40 percent drop in California‘s avocado production over the next 32 years. With water already scarce in the current California drought, farmers are unable to plant as many seeds, so prices of produce are projected to rise.

Time magazine said Chipotle's filing suggests the restaurant might not be willing to stomach the price hike that could follow. National Restaurant News reported that Chipotle is one of the chains that is vulnerable to reduced profits because of current weather concerns.

Oh, settle down. NPR News quotes a Chipotle executive who said there's no need to panic. "There is no looming 'guacapocalypse,'" spokesman Chris Arnold said in an email.

ABC News adds that Chipotle's acknowledgement that climate change may affect the availability of guacamole amounts to nothing more than a routine risk factor. Public companies are required to periodically disclose such factors, about possible business snags related to anything from labor issues to regulations and competition. Companies often want to get out in front of a worse-case scenario to warn investors and head off lawsuits.

Arnold said Chipotle experienced a similar worry over higher avocado prices in 2011, but the company never stopped serving guacamole.

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