As Chipotle continues the fight to restore its reputation, there are a few signs it’s moving in the right direction since our July 2016 post.
First, in February 2017, Chipotle’s sales rose for the first time in five quarters. And it reclaimed its place as the top Mexican food restaurant according to Market Force Information’s annual quick-service restaurant study. It further earned top marks for food quality and cleanliness.
These higher sales and the Market Force report show that Chipotle’s efforts to woo customers appear to be paying off. Free guacamole and other promotions helped bring back old business. Chipotle is now focused on bringing in families. It partnered with Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms, to make a video series about nutrition. “RAD Lands” is a futuristic adventure series used as an educational tool in schools and made widely available as a downloadable application. By reaching kids, Chipotle hopes parents will follow.
Second, Chipotle also emerged victorious in the U.S. District Court for Southern New York. U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla dismissed a lawsuit filed by Chipotle shareholders in 2016 claiming that Chipotle defrauded them about how seriously it took food safety. Specifically, they alleged that Chipotle misled them about the likelihood of new outbreaks of illness and the adequacy of the company’s food safety programs. In March, the court ruled that the shareholders didn’t have enough evidence to proceed with their case.
Chipotle’s woes are not completely resolved, as it may still be struggling to successfully implement food safety procedures. Chipotle began using high-resolution ingredient testing to prevent contamination, but has switched to preventative measures instead. It has also returned to having its lettuce chopped in stores again, after having previously switched the task to central commissaries. But, so far, no outbreaks the size of those that plagued the Mexican food giant in 2015 have reoccurred. And although the Chipotle CEO said 2016 was “the most challenging year in our history,” some recent successes show the company is off to a better start this year.