Ready Foods is a Denver-based company that has supplied Chipotle since 1993 — and can speak to the influence Chipotle has had on its own business. Ready Foods produces our red and green tomatillo salsas at its Dahlia plant, and our Adobo sauce at its East 42nd plant. When these plants were due for remodeling, Ready Foods owner Marco Antonio Abarca turned to lessons he learned at a Chipotle supplier meeting in 2005. “I had never heard of LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). I knew I needed to build a new plant, and working as a supplier to Chipotle, we worked to implement LEED as much as we could,” Mr. Abarca said. At the Dahlia plant, informed by LEED green building principles, Ready Foods installed a variety of environmentally responsible upgrades during its 2007-2008 building remodel. The team added insulation, installed energyefficient windows, increased natural lighting and introduced a comprehensive recycling program. A few years later, at the East 42nd plant, Ready Foods built upon what it learned in its Dahlia plant remodel and went even further — adding premium-efficiency lighting, boilers and an air compressor system with dynamic heat recovery. Ready Foods has seen a three-year payback on these environmentally responsible initiatives, but the real benefit has been a broader shift in thinking. “Once you’ve embraced sustainability, it becomes part of the way you work,” Mr. Abarca said. “Our greatest impact was in influencing our contractors. They took the LEED ideas and have since incorporated them into their own business practices.”
“Chipotle has deep ways of thinking. It has created a lot of positive change. Ready Foods only went down this path because Chipotle exposed us to it. Chipotle is the real deal.” We also support our suppliers in developing environmental standards and sustainability goals. Many of our suppliers have their own sustainability initiatives relating to water usage, energy usage and employee welfare. Although we do not yet include environmental specifications in our supplier agreements, we do take into account opportunities for environmental efficiencies within our supply chain, such as measuring the amount of water used per animal. In 2016, we did not identify any unacceptably negative environmental impacts through our regular supplier auditing process. We have conversations with potential suppliers to better understand their company approach and policies relating to sustainability. We also require tours of suppliers’ facilities to evaluate operations and discuss where improvements can be made. Finally, we ask our suppliers the geographical origin of their raw materials.