NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced the Chipotle Virtual Farmers' Market, powered by Shopify, that will allow farmers in the Chipotle supply chain to launch improved versions of their own e-commerce websites.
Through individualized online marketplaces, Chipotle suppliers will be able to sell meat, dairy and grain products, among other items directly to consumers across the country. Chipotle is helping develop each supplier’s site, covering hosting fees on Shopify for two years and supporting the design and development of the direct-to-consumer storefronts.
The agricultural industry has been weathering a crisis for years that has recently been magnified and accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Farmers around the country have had to destroy millions of pounds of fresh goods due to decreased demand from restaurants, hotels and schools that have closed. The Chipotle Virtual Farmers' Market aims to give Chipotle's suppliers a new stream of revenue and enhance their commitment to sustainable farming practices amid unforeseen circumstances.
“It can be intimidating for many family farms to change the way they do business, so we're giving our suppliers the right tools and resources to successfully launch improved e-commerce platforms,” said Chris Brandt, CMO for Chipotle, in a press release. “Our Food with Integrity values start with our farmers, and helping them adapt to new technologies and ways of reaching the consumer is crucial for both the future of the farming industry and Chipotle.”
To kick off the program, four different Chipotle suppliers will sell through their own individual digital storefronts as part of the Chipotle Virtual Farmers' Market: Niman Ranch, Petaluma Creamery, McKaskle Family Farm and Meister Cheese. Each supplier is essential to Chipotle’s existing restaurant supply chain and has been working with the brand for over a decade.
“This new Virtual Farmers’ Market gives an opportunity for my farm, and hundreds of other small, sustainable farmers like me in the Niman Ranch network raising livestock humanely and without antibiotics, to remain sustainable and resilient through hard times,” said Kirsten Eckerman, Wisconsin farmer for Niman Ranch.