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Climate change may put guac on the chopping block for Chipotle

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Drier conditions in California caused by climate change may force Chipotle’s hand in terms of serving guacamole, as the chain said in its latest SEC filing that they may opt to suspend the item from its menu if prices rise, according to a report today from Think Progress.

Volatile weather would have guacamole on the chopping block if climate conditions negatively affect avocado availability, which would in turn cause prices for the crop to rise.

And Chipotle isn’t sure they’re willing to pony up.

“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,” the SEC investor relations filling said.

“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.”

Certainly removing guac from the burrito equation at Chipotle is a massive undertaking. The restaurant chain uses roughly 97,000 pounds of avocado daily –– 35.4 million pounds yearly –– to make its guacamole.

Not to mention, the company foresees the obvious backlash of avocado-loving burrito buyers with the removal of guacamole from the menu.

“Any such changes to our available menu may negatively impact our restaurant traffic and comparable restaurant sales, and could also have an adverse impact on our brand,” the filing said.

Chipotle outwardly supports organic, local, sustainable farming practices, which could leave the restaurant chain vulnerable, as producers may not be able to fend off poor conditions without raising prices.

The company has already felt it in the wallet during the last two years, according to the filing, as drought conditions “in parts of the U.S. have resulted in significant increases in beef prices during late 2013 and early 2014.”

And the avocado situation could see a similar turn, as according to the report scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory predict hotter temperatures will cause a 40 percent drop in California’s avocado production in then next three decades.

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