How far will Chipotle go to source grass-fed organic beef?

How far will Chipotle go to source grass-fed organic beef?

Cattle image by Marc Damulder via Flickr

Western consumers have grown incredibly health-conscious lately, prompting many supermarkets and restaurants to offer customers beef products from grass-fed cows.

What's wrong with corn-fed? The basic explanation is that cattle can't properly digest grain, despite that many large food companies use it to feed their livestock. Although grass-fed beef is better for consumer health, enterprise procurement processes officers are wondering if it's better for them.

A meager supply

Food Renegade acknowledged restaurant chain Chipotle's commitment to sourcing 100 percent of its beef from grass-fed cows, most of which are raised in Australia. The organization's reasoning behind this decision is that not enough farmers based in the U.S. follow a truly organic protocol.

Although farmers raising grass-fed cattle are all over the U.S., Chipotle asserts too many of them use hormones and antibiotics. Therefore, sourcing from businesses raising livestock in such a manner prevents the brand from honestly labeling itself as a user of organic meat.

In contrast, Australian-raised cows spend their entire lives in pastures, eating grass or forages such as hay, the source noted. Procurement services and other organizations have discovered other Australian practices surpass standards outlined by the American Grassfed Association, further solidifying the reasoning behind Chipotle's decision.

Organizing supply

This stringent policy is causing Chipotle to resist purchasing beef from American farmers. Many U.S.-based livestock herders that follow Australian practices can't adequately support Chipotle's demand: The volume is simply too great.

Not to mention, the U.S. suffered a drought in 2012 that killed off much of the nation's grass-fed livestock, causing many companies to turn to commercial producers that feed their cattle corn, Bloomberg News' Megan Durisin reported. However, 2014 has proven to be a bountiful year for grazers. Durisin noted that Glen Cope, owner of a 2,000-acre ranch in Aurora, Mo., is benefiting from a season that's "been getting plenty of rain."

Durisin noted that 48 percent of pastures and rangeland were labeled as either being in "good" or "excellent" condition as of Aug. 17 — the best rating since 2010. She cited a statistic from the U.S. Drought Monitor, which showed a 32 percent decrease in aridness.

As grazing conditions improve throughout the nation, strategic sourcing specialists may advise U.S. enterprises to source from farmers specializing in raising grass-fed cattle. Hiring procurement services to conduct comprehensive surveys of farmer practices and protocols will help businesses accurately inform consumers that they're providing organic beef.

Top image of cattle by Marc Damulder via Flickr. This article first appeared at Strategic Sourceror.