Chipotle holds the pork

A sign on the door states it clearly, no pork carnitas for diners. (Photo by Adam Aasen)

A sign on the door states it clearly, no pork carnitas for diners. (Photo by Adam Aasen)

By Adam Aasen

Earlier in January, it was announced that Chipotle, a popular Mexican restaurant chain, would stop selling pork products at about one-third of its locations nationwide because it was discovered a supplier wasn’t keeping the pork up to their standards.

As of press time, the “pork carnitas” were not available at the 12697 N Pennsylvania St. Chipotle in Carmel, near Meijer and U.S. 31.  But the carnitas were sold at 2420 E. 146th St. in Westfield. The carnitas also are available at the nearby Keystone Fashion Mall location.

Some business analysts wondered if the shortage of the popular menu item would hurt sales. The company branded the decision by reiterating their opposition to selling pork that isn’t “responsibly raised,” a phrase the company uses so often that they’ve registered it as an official trademark.

It appears that their marketing spin has paid off. Ask local customers and they say they have more respect for Chipotle for deciding to not sell the pork.

“It’s good to see the company stand up for its morals,” said Rob Lower of Westfield. “I don’t typically order the pork, so it doesn’t affect us, but it makes me more likely to come back. I usually order the chicken, but I know they are probably going to hold those farmers to the same standards as the people supplying the pork.”

Keke Reynolds, who works at the Pennsylvania Street location, said customers have been very understanding about the shortage and most have had positive comments to say in response.

Chipotle Spokesman Chris Arnold told ABC News that it’s important to the company that pigs be given access to the outdoors instead of raised in a pen. Unfortunately, there’s a shortage of pork available that met these standards. He said they hope this situation is temporary.

Carmel’s Ross Hamilton said he thinks more companies should go in that direction.

“We’re getting into more organic products as opposed to animals filled with hormones, so it does make a difference to me,” he said.

And while some customers might be craving pork, luckily it’s only a short drive to a location that serves carnitas.

“I could understand why it’s frustrating for people who want pork but couldn’t get it,” said Lauren Creek of Carmel. “But it’s important to have a higher quality product.”