Chipotle running out of carne asada but says guacamole supply is safe

The Mexican food chain estimates the seasonal steak will run out in late November or early December.

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A Chipotle worker cuts steak.


Your guac is safe for now, but your local Chipotle Mexican Grill could soon be running out of carne asada.

During a quarterly earnings call last week, officials with the fast casual chain said the new limited-time steak option is expected to run out in late November or early December. It was introduced in September and intended to be a seasonal item.

Pricing and availability for avocados — which were in short supply and high demand during a summer of record-high prices — has stabilized, officials said. Some locations had guacamole shortages.

John Hartung, Chipotle’s chief financial officer, said a more plentiful harvest of avocados is expected next year.

“We expect ongoing moderation in avocado pricing as a result of increasing supply in the back half of the quarter,” Hartung said, noting the company also got more supply from Peru and reduced its reliance on Mexico.

More new menu items are expected and Chipotle is currently testing quesadillas, salads, and a new queso called Queso Blanco, CEO Brian Niccol said. The new and whiter queso is being tested in Detroit, Dallas and San Diego, Chris Brandt, Chipotle chief marketing officer, said in an interview.

“The queso is performing really well in all three of the markets,” he said. “We think that will be ready to go at some point in 2020.”

Along with looking at adding more choices, the chain is planning new locations. Hartung said the chain plans to open 140 to 155 in the current fiscal year and then 150 to 165 new restaurants in 2020. More than half of the new locations will have a Chipotlane, a special drive-thru.

You can’t order food at a Chipotlane, which is a “mobile order pick-up lane.” You have to place a mobile order, select a pickup time and then head to the Chipotlane to pick up your food.

Growing digital sales is a key Chipotle strategy, officials said.

“Our digital sales have been ramping up really quickly and are over 18% of our sales,” Brandt said. “We’ll be at $1 billion in digital sales we think by the end of the year.”


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