On Thursday, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced that it was offering a meatless chorizo in two U.S. markets: Indianapolis and Denver. The popular restaurant chain has not introduced a plant-based product since 2014, when it launched its sofritas, made with soy. Restaurants are making an effort to introduce more meat-free products keeping in mind changing food and environment concerns.
Chipotle’s meat-free chorizo has used pea protein as its base. It has added the following ingredients as flavoring agents to the high protein base:
- ancho chili
- chipotle peppers
- tomato paste
- olive oil
The restaurant chain said that its meatless chorizo will contain twenty grams of protein per serving. It will be gluten free. No grains or soy will be used in its formulation. It is also certified vegan. Earlier. Beyond Meat had also used the pea, the same plant protein, in its meatless options.
Chorizo has not been a high sales item for Chipotle. In 2016, it had offered meat chorizo but removed in favor of the queso as it was responsible for garnering only 3 percent of its protein sales. In late 2018, it had launched the meat chorizo as a limited-time offer. In 2021, it is trying to increase sales by offering a plant-based chorizo.
Chipotle has debuted this meatless chorizo as the newest product in its stage-gate process. This process allows the popular chain to research and analyze customer feedback and strategize before it launches a new product at a national level.
Other popular debuts through the stage-gate process in the past included
- Hand Crafted Quesadilla
- Smoked Brisket
- Cauliflower Rice
- Super Greens Salad Mix
- Carne Asada
- Queso Blanco.
Chris Brandt, who is the chief marketing officer of Chipotle said that plant-based lifestyles were increasingly popular and as a longtime leader in the category, the restaurant chain was exploring ways to give their customers new options with real ingredients that could be enjoyed by everyone.
Chipotle shares have seen a surge of 33 percent in 2021, with its market value at $52 billion. Although Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants were shuttered during the early months of the pandemic, online sales help boost revenues and stock prices.