- Irene Jiang / Business Insider
- Chipotle customers and employees have been complaining about its guacamole, which they say was made with hard and stringy avocados.
- “On the worst days I could literally punch an avocado, which is supposed to be soft and easy to mash, and it wouldn’t leave a dent,” a Chipotle employee from Massachusetts said, adding that their store stopped serving guacamole on certain days this summer because of “terrible” avocados.
- “Due to the seasonal transition from Peruvian to Mexican suppliers that happens every year at this time, we are experiencing normal variabilities in our avocados,” Laurie Schalow, Chipotle’s chief communications officer, said in a statement.
- Avocado prices have been volatile this year, prompting companies to search for suppliers outside of Mexico.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Chipotle’s guacamole – long a customer favorite – has sparked complaints from some customers in recent weeks as the chain seeks avocado suppliers outside of Mexico.
It appears that some of the chain’s avocados imported from Peru this summer are fueling the backlash. Customers and employees on social media have complained about hard avocados, brown guacamole, and stores without guac in stock.
— rai pie ♡ (@R4iPie) September 1, 2019
Hey @ChipotleTweets I have zero culinary experience, but even I could get this right. How do you let this get served from a location? The skin isn’t even off the avocado, and the entire guacamole is brown. Dickson, PA location. pic.twitter.com/4f7mGLR2J5
— Jeff Kamara (@Goddamnit_Jeff) August 30, 2019
I passed on the brown avocado being served at my neighborhood Chipotle. pic.twitter.com/ahlPF89qjB
— Voluptuous Nerd ???? (@nextlevel726) September 5, 2019
Mexican avocados’ peak season is November to April, meaning Chipotle and other chains often switch to other suppliers during the summer. Laurie Schalow, Chipotle’s chief communications officer, told Business Insider that since the summer is coming to a close, the quality difference is a seasonal issue.
“Due to the seasonal transition from Peruvian to Mexican suppliers that happens every year at this time, we are experiencing normal variabilities in our avocados but we can assure our customers that our guac is still being freshly prepared in our restaurants every day,” Schalow said in a statement to Business Insider.
Chipotle employees have also noticed issues with the avocados, especially with the texture.
“On the worst days I could literally punch an avocado, which is supposed to be soft and easy to mash, and it wouldn’t leave a dent,” a Chipotle employee from Massachusetts told Business Insider. “Most days the avocados were still edible but much harder to work with, essentially doubling my time to make the guac and have a decent end product.”
The employee said that some days coworkers would tell their boss that they couldn’t make guacamole with the “especially terrible” avocados sourced from Peru, meaning the location had to tell customers that it was not selling guac that day; online orders with guacamole received coupons for free guac.
On Reddit, users who described themselves as Chipotle employees in New York, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, and Massachusetts said that they had been supplied with hard and “stringy” avocados over the summer.
Lolz the Chipotle employees tried to tell me their guac is “fresh”. Does this look fresh to you? To me it looks like food poisoning. They wouldn’t give me fresh guac. Glad I paid for food poisoning and didn’t get a refund @ChipotleTweets DOES THIS LOOK FRESH TO YOU?! pic.twitter.com/D2eZ4Gd0nr
— Logan ✨ Delape (@LoganDelape) September 10, 2019
— Eric Suris (@ejsuris) September 10, 2019
— Fake Charley Belcher (@GSxWeToddDid) September 8, 2019
One group of Chipotle customers said they were so distressed by the guacamole made with “bland,” “stringy,” and sometimes spoiled avocados that they made a Twitter account called SaveTheGuac. In August and early September, SaveTheGuac tracked down tweets complaining about bad avocados at Chipotle and reached out to journalists, including several at Business Insider.
The group told Business Insider via Twitter direct message that they began noticing the issues about a month ago. This was the first time, the group of friends said, that they’d encountered problems with Chipotle’s guacamole after tracking consistency across hundreds of visits over more than a decade.
Business Insider’s Irene Jiang recently came across some of the problematic guacamole in a keto bowl ordered at a Manhattan Chipotle. Employees told Business Insider during another visit to the store that the location was sourcing its avocados from Peru.
“I was perturbed to discover that half my guac was, in fact, a strangely impenetrable avocado slab. It was inedible,” Jiang wrote in her review of the keto bowl earlier this week.
Chipotle’s avocado woes
- Irene Jiang / Business Insider
Avocado prices have been volatile throughout 2019, with the price per pound of imports more than doubling from January to June, according to US government data.
President Donald Trump’s proposal to impose tariffs on Mexican goods sparked concerns that avocados would get even more expensive. Chipotle’s chief financial officer, Jack Hartung, said in June that tariffs could increase the company’s costs by roughly $15 million in 2019.
As prices increase and fears of tariffs grow, many American brands have turned to countries other than Mexico, the top exporter, for avocados.
In the first half of 2019, the US imported 73 million pounds of avocados from Peru – more than twice as much as the 31 million pounds imported from January to June 2018 – making it the US’s No. 2 source of imported avocados. Imports from Chile and the Dominican Republic also increased.
The US imported 1.1 billion pounds of avocados from Mexico, roughly in line with 2018’s figures.
While Chipotle previously told Bloomberg it planned to buy more Peruvian avocados in 2019 than it did last year, it said it had used the same amount of the ingredient as it did in 2018. Schalow told Business Insider on Thursday that the amount of avocados Chipotle used from Peru was “not significantly different” from last year’s figures.
Chipotle’s guacamole seems likely to become more consistent as the chain finishes its seasonal transition back to Mexican avocados. The Massachusetts Chipotle employee who spoke with Business Insider said that his location switched back to Mexican avocados roughly a week ago and that the quality was immediately more consistent.
“Hopefully the avocados remain good in the future as it both makes a product the customers enjoy more and also makes my life MUCH easier, considering hard avocados can be surprisingly difficult to work with for what you would expect out of an avocado,” the employee said.
Avocado prices are also becoming less volatile, according to the Wells Fargo analyst Jon Tower.
“While still inflationary, avocado prices came off the boil (up 25% vs. 87% in July),” Tower wrote in an early-September review of restaurant commodities, noting that the change was good news for Chipotle.