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Chipotle responds to Commissioner Staples about buying Australian beef

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Amarillo, TX - Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is now applauding Chipotle Mexican Grill's CEO for accepting his invitation to discuss how the U.S. and the Texas beef industry can help supply and meet the company's strict beef standards.

This comes after Chipotle CEO Steve Ells announced the company was going to start importing beef from Australia because there was not enough naturally raised beef in the U.S. to meet their demands.

In a letter last week, Commissioner Staples urged Ells to reconsider importing beef from outside the U.S. and invited him to meet with him and other Texas beef leaders to discuss how the Texas beef industry can work with them. "The big beef about this whole situation was the insinuation that Australia raised responsibly raised beef and the rest of the world didn't, and I thought that record needed to be set right up front," said Staples.

Ells responded this week in a letter by saying, "The majority of the beef we serve our customers will continue to come from the U.S., as it always has. For example, last year Chipotle purchased more than 52 million pounds of U.S. beef, a volume more than 13 percent greater than the previous year." 

In the letter, Ells said Chipotle's beef protocols include requirements that cattle are raised without antibiotics. He also explained that beyond the protocols for how animals are raised, they also only purchase 23 percent of the carcass or 13 percent of the live weight of the animal. "In order for the cuts we do buy to be available for us, our suppliers rely on other customers to buy the cuts we do not. Since we buy only 23 percent of the carcass, our supply is limited by the demand of the other 77 percent. As a result, our demand for certain cuts from animals raised in a way that meets our protocols may exceed the availability of those if there is insufficient demand for the rest of the animal," explained Ells.

That's why the company has looked beyond the U.S. to meet their needs. However, if local producers are available to meet the companies needs, Ells told Staples he is willing to work them as well. "I would be more than happy to provide more information about our sourcing protocols to you and your team, as well as any ranchers interested in supplying beef to Chipotle, as we are always interested in working with additional suppliers who raise their animals according to our standards."

Commissioner Staples said he is happy Ells agreed to open a discussion. "I applaud Mr. Ells for reaching out and offering to provide additional information on how more Texas and U.S. ranchers can supply beef to Chipotle. Chipotle has an important place in the U.S. food marketplace. They share the same basic interest as U.S. beef producers and that's to maintain high standards while delivering food to their customers. My goal is to help forge the natural marriage between quality beef and consumer interest in buying American food."

The Commissioner said he thinks Texas producers will be able to adapt to their beef requirements. "I know that different standards are changed over time and Texans are very innovative and they're always looking to provide the safest food available. We do that today, and we can do that to meet anyone's standards."

Staples is assembling a team of Texas beef industry leaders and producers to meet with Chipotle in the near future. "We know we don't like being dependent on foreign oil, and we cannot become dependent on foreign food. This dialogue, I believe, will end up being a healthy one and a good process for us to sit down and visit with Chipotle and others that are looking for specifics when it comes to ordering their food supplies," said Staples.

Chipotle is currently setting up shop in Amarillo. The company said they plan to open by the end of this year or in early 2015.


Click here to read the Chipotle letter to TX AG Commissioner Todd Staples

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10

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  • Madison Alewel

    Madison Alewel

    Madison joined NewsChannel 10 as a reporter in October 2013. She comes from Las Vegas, Nevada but has strong Midwest roots.
    Madison joined NewsChannel 10 as a reporter in October 2013. She comes from Las Vegas, Nevada but has strong Midwest roots.
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