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Chipotle's nationwide carnitas shortages are actually great news

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

I went to my friendly neighborhood Chipotle on Sunday, and it had no carnitas. I thought it was just an idiosyncratic supply hiccup, but then I started hearing from friends and acquaintances about widespread lack of pork at Chipotles around America. Was sharia coming to America? Was Michel Houellebecq right about everything?

It turns out to actually be kind of a heartwarming, feel-good story. Chipotle is experiencing pork shortages because they found out that some of their suppliers weren't in compliance with their standards for humane treatment of pigs.

A Chipotle spokesman told Candace Choi of the AP that they found out about the violation on Friday, and "it's hard to say" how long the pork shortage will last.

With pork comprising only about 6 or 7 percent of Chipotle's sales and many burrito fans presumably willing to accept an alternate protein (my wife told me to buy her a chicken burrito instead, not to go elsewhere in search of pork), this is probably a stand the company can take without giving much up in the way of sales. And in some ways, the public relations coup could be priceless. Chipotle doesn't do a lot of conventional fast food advertising, but does put a heavy emphasis on unconventional ways to market themselves as a more ethical meat-eating alternative.

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