In the last week of April, Chipotle Mexican Grill, with more than 1,800 locations, announced their ingredient lists will no longer contain Genetically Modified Ingredients (GMO). Note, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Since 2011, the restaurant chain has emphasized their “Food With Integrity campaigns and began identifying which foods contained GMOs in 2013.

...but probably not marketing with integrity.
…but probably not marketing with integrity.

Chipotle continues to cater to a select idealism of healthy food and has increasingly worked to set themselves and their food apart through a sizeable marketing budget. Spokespeople for the chain of restaurants continue to highlight the need for healthier food options, choosing to ignore their own menu boasting meals with an average calorie count over 1,000 – several closing in on 2,000 calories. When approached about that contradiction, Chipotle says it’s the consumers responsibility to reduce portion sizes. Yet it seems here, Chipotle has taken it upon themselves to make the decision about the availability of GMO ingredients.

I’m not against someone who chooses to eat organic or naturally produced foods, though I will not support these niche markets with my food dollars because I trust the scientifically proven safety of GMO foods. My issue is with the lack of integrity in marketing used by Chipotle, their misrepresentation and attacks on modern farming practices, and use of fear to portray other food options as inferior and unethical.

This Food With Integrity campaign has stirred up its share of debate and emotion over the years, which includes frustrations among the agriculture community which supplies Chipotle its own food products. In a separate blog entry, I have summarized Chipotle’s marketing campaign moves over the years with links to previous posts where I went into greater detail on the campaigns. Click here to read more.

Most major news and media outlets have taken notice of Chipotle’s announcement to serve only non-GMO ingredients – a few big exceptions include feed for animals which produce the meat found in Chipotle stores and soft drinks containing HFCS. Much of this news has not been positive for the restaurant chain, whose stock prices has steady fallen throughout April due to weaker than expected growth in recent quarters, partly due to their self-induced pork shortage and weaker sales growth in stores.

There are still many, many more stories along the same lines of those listed above, a list likely to grow over the next few weeks. It is encouraging to seem many notable news outlets reporting on the event and calling Chipotle out for the misstep and contradictory nature of their marketing campaign, especially considering a menu that is no more healthy from a nutrition standpoint than most every other fast food restaurant.

Remember to visit the recap of Chipotle’s marketing campaigns and moves to serve Food With Integrity.