If temperatures continue to warm up and droughts intensify, Chipotle might have to make an unpopular but cost-saving decision: no more guacamole. Here's the company's statement in its latest annual report:
Like all restaurant companies, we are susceptible to increases in food costs as a result of factors beyond our control, such as general economic conditions, seasonal fluctuations, weather conditions, global demand, food safety concerns, generalized infectious diseases, fluctuations of the U.S. dollar, product recalls and government regulations.
Increasing weather volatility or other long-term changes in global weather patterns, including any changes associated with global climate change, could have a significant impact on the price or availability of some of our ingredients.
Specifically, Chipotle continues, "in the event of cost increases with respect to one or more of our raw ingredients, we may choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as guacamole or one or more of our salsas, rather than paying the increased cost for the ingredients."
Chipotle's guacamole demands are not insignificant. As Think Progress reports, Chipotle goes through about 97,000 pounds of avocados every day. Droughts, however, are predicted to get worse in the future, which could especially affect California's avocado output, dropping yields by up to 40 percent, Think Progress writes. More Chipotles are located in California than in any other state, and given the company's commitment to using locally sourced products, that could spell trouble for the guacamole.
According to a Science and Technology Review paper, changes to California's climate will likely begin to impact avocados (as well as wine grapes, almonds, organges and walnuts) by 2020. The situation will really become dire around 2080. By that time, however, "we'll probably have bigger problems" to deal with than no guac on our burritos, the Wall Street Journal points out.