Chipotle says U.S. pork supply problem coming to an end

Chipotle says U.S. pork supply problem coming to an end

By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) - Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc <CMG.N> is closing the book on its carnitas crisis of 2015.

The burrito seller on Monday said it has restored most of the pork supplies it lost early this year after suspending a supplier for not complying with its animal welfare standards.

Denver-based Chipotle said it is now serving carnitas in 90 percent of its more than 1,850 restaurants.

Some 600 restaurants were affected by the cut in its pork supplies. Outlets in the Cleveland and Atlanta areas, as well as in North Carolina and South Carolina, are still awaiting supplies, the company said, adding it expects to have all restaurants resupplied by the end of November.

Chipotle in January said the suspension came after a routine audit found inconsistencies between an unnamed, primary pork supplier's operations and the chain's protocols.

Existing pork suppliers and a new partner, UK-based Karro Food, filled the supply gap.

Chipotle won a loyal following by offering meat from animals that have never received antibiotics. Still, it serves conventionally raised chicken when such supplies fall short. And, the company recently cited tight supplies for its decision to allow Karro to use antibiotics to treat animal illness "only when necessary."

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Alan Crosby)